Preserving Our Past, Capitalizing on the Present, Embracing the Future

WWII Cadet Nurse Ruth Sullivan Joins the Army!

© Constance J. Moore
Colonel, ANC (Retired), ANCA Historian

(Note: Elizabeth Galloway wrote this tribute for her sister. We are happy that she has given us permission to use it as the major part of this article.)

COL Katherine Florence GallowayKatherine Florence Galloway was born 22 July 1929, to Charles and Florence Galloway. Raised in a typical Irish Catholic family, she was the middle child of three siblings, living in a small town in rural New York state. She attended the two-room Catholic school until eighth grade, after which she transferred to a public high school, and later attended nurses training.

After graduating from nursing school in 1950, Katy astounded her friends by joining the Army to care for casualties resulting from the Korean War. After the officers basic course in 1952, she was not sent overseas. Instead, she was assigned to Wakeman General Hospital, Camp Atterbury, Indiana. In 1953 she was sent to the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany, where she worked on an obstetrical unit. She loved the opportunity to travel in Europe to places she had only read about. On returning stateside, she resigned her active duty commission, and entered the active reserve so that she could go to school, earning her BSN in 1957 at the University of Buffalo, NY, and worked in a civilian hospital obstetrics unit.

After much thought, Katy decided that active duty Army nursing was more compatible with her career goals, so she returned to active duty in 1958. During this phase of her career, she was assigned toValley Forge Army Hospital, Pennsylvania, and Tripler General Hospital, Hawaii and attended the first 40-week Military Nursing Practice and Research Course that taught research methodologies to analyze and improve nursing practice. She also continued her civilian education and earned a Master of Science degree at Case Western in Cleveland, Ohio, in June 1967.

Upon graduating, she received orders for stateside duty, yet she wanted to go to Vietnam. So – Katy made a few phone calls and got her orders revoked. In July 1967, she was assigned to serve as the Chief Nurse of the 85th Evacuation Hospital, Qui Nhon, Vietnam. Little did she know that she would be there during the busiest time in the war, the 1968 Tet Offensive.

MAJ Galloway receives Bronze Star

When Vietnamese revolutionaries launched a series of audacious attacks against cities, towns, and military bases, Katy and her nurses were astonished and shocked by the massive trauma cases for which they were responsible. Nurses had to protect their patients as best they could. They placed them beneath beds or mattresses, and often gave the patients their personal helmets. Kay motivated her staff to work as hard as they could to care for the patients. Fledging soldiers, in turn, inspired her. She remembered, “How young the soldiers were, yet mature and brave.”

In February 1968, Katy was transferred to the 2nd Surgical Hospital in Chu Lai as the Chief Nurse. With the increased pace of the war and greater number of casualties, she dealt with issues such as, logistical problems with humor and creativity and procured life-saving supplies for her nurses. Before leaving the country, Katy received the Bronze Star for her exemplary performance of duty.

Her next duty station was as the Head Nurse of the Burn Unit, at Brooke Army Medical Center in August 1968. In some ways, she found this assignment as challenging as her work in Vietnam because of the patients’ severe burns and intense pain. With the advances in medical therapeutics, she considered burn care nursing a specialty area. To demonstrate why additional education and training were important, she wrote articles for nursing journals and helped produce training films that emphasized burn care standards. Newly assigned nurses such as Madeleine Mysko observed how Katy explained to a patient what her staff was doing, “Her voice was low and at the same time so beautiful even I was not afraid ... I remember it still, 40 years later, learning [from one of the] best of the ICU nurses.”1

In 1971, she was assigned as the Chief of the ANC Career Activities Office. It was a difficult time providing coverage for the busy hospitals both in Vietnam and in CONUS. Katy developed a management strategy that emphasized officer development and career progression. She worked hard to make assignments equitable, and personally monitored senior assignments.

In 1974, she became the Chief Nurse at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. BG-R Clara Adams-Ender recalled how she mentored officers: “She was a very kind, soft-spoken, and powerful person. Kindness doesn’t mean ... [only] pleasant ... Sometimes you may need to give someone a swift kick, which Katy could do unflinchingly.”2

When Katy retired, she built a home next to the family homestead in Silver Creek, NY. She became a beloved instructor at Fredonia University. She also served as a guest speaker at several military meetings. Katy died at Buffalo General Hospital following surgery for a bowel obstruction on 1 March 1985. She left a family deeply proud of her service to the nation.

1 Tilda Shalof, T. (2009). Madeleine Mysko. Lives in the Balance. New York: Kaplan Publishing, p.18. 
2 Vance, C & R. Olsen. (1998). A Leader’s Mentors by Clara L. Adams-Ender. The Mentor Connection in Nursing Springer Publishing, p. 85.