Rep. DeLissio: Bridge named to honor history-making American veteran

PHILADELPHIA, March 1 – A bridge along Henry Avenue, passing over Wissahickon Creek and Lincoln Drive in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, has been designated as the Brigadier General Anna Mae V. McCabe Hays Memorial Bridge, state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Philadelphia, announced this week.

DeLissio was asked by state Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards if she would introduce legislation to honor Hays, who was a Pennsylvania resident from childhood, dedicated U.S. Army veteran, and the first woman to achieve the rank of brigadier general as a nurse.

“General Hays led groundbreaking reforms in personnel policies, including the elimination of automatic discharges for married officers who became pregnant and to ensure that appointments to the Army Nurse Corps Reserve were not based on the age of the nurse's dependents,” DeLissio said. “It is fitting that we now recognize the contributions of this remarkable woman.”

Brig. Gen. Anna Mae V. McCabe Hays

Hays, who died last year at age 97, was inspired to join the Army Nurse Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was deployed to India, where she cared for over 49,000 patients.

After World War II, she also served in the Korean War, graduated from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and Catholic University of America, and guided Army nurses through the Vietnam War in her role as the 13th chief of the Army Nurse Corps.

The latter resulted in her promotion to the rank of brigadier general in 1970, making her the first woman in the U.S. Armed Forces to achieve the rank of general. She retired in 1971. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the commonwealth flag at the Capitol and all other state facilities in her hometown of Allentown to be flown at half-staff after she died in January 2018.

Among Hays’ awards: the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Army Commendation Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and Korean Service Medal.

The bridge will be one of a very few that are named in honor of female military veterans. Surviving family to Hays are longtime residents of Roxborough and were pleased and grateful to have this very special lady so recognized.  

The bridge-naming dedication will be held May 10. All are welcome, and a time for the ceremony will be posted closer to the date.

The newly named Brigadier General Anna Mae V. McCabe Hays Memorial Bridge along that portion of Route 4001, also known as Henry Avenue, includes new signs in both directions displaying the name of the bridge.