BETTY JO HICKS
Branch of Service: Army
Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Service years: 1943-1946
Glen Rock: Lived on Emerson Road and attended Central School and GRJHS
Betty Jo Hicks moved to Glen Rock in 1935 and resided at 52 Emerson Road. She attended Central School, Glen Rock Junior High School, and then Ridgewood High School, from which she graduated in 1941. Nicknamed B.J., the quote used to describe her in her high school yearbook was “She enters into work and play in the same good natural, jolly way.” She is also described as “full of fun, loved outdoor things, and was considered one of the outstanding young people of the Borough." She taught Sunday school at the Community Church of Glen Rock, and in civic work, she was referred to as “Miss Glen Rock.” She also welcomed newcomers to the borough and was named the “official hostess” of the town. Her father, William T. Hicks, was a World War I veteran and registered for the World War II draft. It is no surprise then that his children carried on this patriotic tradition; Betty Jo joined the Army Nurse Corps after nursing school and her brother William Jr. joined the United States Navy.
During the Second World War, the demand for nurses in the armed forces caused a shortage of civilian nurses back in the United States. In response to this, the Bolton Act was passed in 1943, which set up the Cadet Nurse Corps program. This program was extremely successful and over 150,000 nurse graduates testified to its value when the program was ended in 1948. It was during this time that Betty Jo received her nurse training at the School of Nursing of Paterson General Hospital, from which she graduated in 1945.
Nurses in the Army Nurse Corps were accepted between 22 and 30 years of age. They were required to have a high school diploma and to have graduated from a school of nursing associated with a hospital that had a minimum of a three-year program. Prior to November 1942, married women were not permitted in the Army Nurse Corps, but after this date, both married and single women were allowed. Training of Army nurses consisted of four weeks of basic military training. This course was 144 hours of training and covered everything from military courtesy and customs to physical training to military sanitation. Later on in the war, more emphasis was placed on things such as field training, map reading, and obstacle and infiltration courses. Betty Jo was one of these nurses, and after she enlisted, in June of 1945, was commissioned as a first lieutenant.
As a First Lieutenant, Betty Jo would have received a monthly pay of $167 as well as free food and lodging, free clothing and equipment, and free medical and dental services. Though pay differed depending on rank, the benefits the nurses received were the same regardless of rank. On June 22, 1944, Nurses were finally granted full Officer status by Congress for the Duration of World War II plus an additional six months. This included full retirement privileges, dependents’ allowance, and equal pay.
Hicks served at hospitals in Atlantic City, namely the England General Hospital and the Fort Dix Base Hospital. During World War II, several army divisions and smaller units were trained at Fort Dix. Fort Dix is most likely where Betty Jo trained for the Army Nurse Corps. In early 1946, she was assigned to sea duty aboard the U.S.S. Goethals, and made several trips from America to Europe and back again. On these trips, Miss. Hicks cared for sick and wounded G.I.s returning home as well as assisting war brides and their children. Those with casualties were evacuated from battlefields on hospital ships and transported across seas and channels to fixed medical facilities as well as carrying military patients from global battle zones back to the United States. On these ships, 35 army nurses were assigned to have a patient capacity of 500 patients. Most hospital ships were initially assigned to the Mediterranean and European theaters and then moved to the Pacific theater following the victory in Europe.
The demobilization of the armed forces in the European theater began with the victory in Europe in May of 1945 and continued into 1946. Soldiers were demobilized under a point system where they earned one point for each month of service, an additional point for each month spent overseas, and five points for each battle star or decoration. Soldiers were given 12 points for each dependent child up to three children, and once soldiers reached 85 points they were demobilized as soon as transport was available. Betty Jo Hicks was one of the nurses assisting in transporting demobilized troops home, in addition to those who had been injured.
In August 1946, Betty Jo was home on leave from the Army Nurse Corps. She took ill there and was rushed to the Paterson General Hospital. After four days, Betty Jo passed away. She died on August 25, 1946, from uremic poisoning. Miss. Hicks, though she passed on at a very young age, was an important part of the Glen Rock community. She was laid to rest in Woodland Cemetery, Bronx, New York, with full military honors.
Born: 1923, Chicago, Illinois
Died: 1946, Paterson, New Jersey