© Constance J. Moore
Colonel, ANC (Retired), ANCA Historian
The 2009 Army Nurse Corps Scholarships were named in honor of Captain Gussie M. Jones, who died of non-battle-related causes when assigned to the 31st Combat Support Hospital, in Baghdad, Iraq, on 7 March 2004. She was the first African-American Army Nurse to die while assigned to duty in a theater of operations.
Captain Jones had a fifteen-year Army career, serving as an enlisted Soldier for ten years and an officer for five years. When she enlisted in the Army in 1988, she worked as a personnel specialist, earning the rank of sergeant. In 1996, she entered the Army Enlisted Commissioning Program to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Captain Jones graduated from Syracuse University and was commissioned as Army Nurse Corps officer in 1998.
Her first assignment was Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, from 1998 to 2002. She worked on several medical, surgical and ambulatory care units. After attending an Intensive Care Course, she was moved to William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas. She served in the Intensive Care Unit, handling a wide range of critically ill trauma, pediatrics, medical and surgical patients.
In January 2004 Captain Jones volunteered to serve overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, deploying with the 31st Combat Support Hospital to the unit in Balad, Iraq. She toiled numerous hours in the intensive care unit to provide the best care to service members, civilian casualties and enemy combatant patients. When the other unit of the 31st Combat Support Hospital located in Baghdad was experiencing significant personnel shortages, she volunteered to work there in February 2004. Tired after a busy work schedule, on 7 March 2004 she complained of feeling faint and dehydrated. Captain Gussie Jones died in her own hospital, after losing consciousness and suffering cardiac arrest.
Captain Jones was raised in Palestine, Arkansas. She was one of eight children whose parents died before she left home. Siblings describe that they all pulled together and helped each grow up. Captain Jones saw education as a way out of poverty. "My daughter says 'I'm Aunt Gussie's favorite niece.' But everybody thought they were Aunt Gussie's favorite niece because that's the way she made them feel," Wanda McDaniel said of her sister. Captain Jones had a strong faith in God and throughout her life was active in church.
Funeral services were held for her on 15 March 2004 at Saint Mark Baptist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas. Captain Jones was buried in the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery. Several memorials for her were created in 2005. The Intensive Care Unit at William Beaumont Army Medical Center has been renamed in her honor. In Baghdad, Iraq, a building called Jones Hall was dedicated to her.
- _____________, Profiles of Those Killed in Iraq, Atlanta Journal Constitution. http://www.militarycity.com/valor/257070.html (accessed June 20, 2009. (accessed June 20, 2009.)