Patricia D. Horoho

Patricia D. Horoho
Chief of US Army Nurse Corps and 43rd Surgeon General

Except of Biographical Sketch from Pollitt & Humphries (2013)

Citation: Pollitt, P.A. & Humphries, A (2013). Nursing in a Time and Place of Peril: Five Heroic North Carolina Nurses.  Journal of Nursing Education and Practice,3(9).  176-186.

Patricia Horoho- Pentagon Nurse on 9/11/2001 and Chief of the US Army Nurse Corps e 43rd Surgeon General

“Coming in that morning, I was reading the book God Is My CEO …. I thought this is a wonderful way to start the day and that this is going to be a great day… As I was working, a couple of people in the hallway said that the World Trade Center had been hit. At that time, it (a television) showed the second plane attacking. I watched and this calm feeling came over me and I said, “There’s going to be a series of attacks across the United States … We’re going to be next.” I could just feel in my heart that that was exactly what was going to happen.”

Horoho describing the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 [48]:

"In every conflict the U.S. Army has fought, Army Medicine has stood shoulder to shoulder with our fighting forces, supporting those who are putting their lives on the line to defend our freedom. It is my honor to be able to serve in this position and carry on the strong tradition [49]."

The 43rd Surgeon General and the Commanding General of the United States Army Medical Command, Major General Patricia Horoho, R.N. is the first woman and the first nurse to ever hold the prestigious position commanding the Army’s largest medical organization [50]. Horoho took over command in December 2011. Horoho’s remarkable nursing career was probably in the making from the time she was born. She was born in 1960, in Womack Army Hospital, the base hospital at Fort Bragg near Fayetteville, NC. Patricia was one of three children born to retired Army Officer Frank Dallas and Josephine Dallas. After attending local parochial schools in Fayetteville, NC and graduating from E.E. Smith High School in 1978, Horoho entered the nursing program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [51]. While there, she decided to join the Army with the intention of serving only three years to see the world.

Army assignments took her around the globe. After posts in Europe and across the United States, including Pittsburgh, PA where she earned a Master of Science in Nursing Degree as Clinical Trauma Nurse Specialist from the University of Pittsburg in 1992 [52]. Horoho is also a graduate of the Army's Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, where she earned a second Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy [53].

Horoho found herself back at Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg by 1994. She was the head nurse on duty when victims from the Green Ramp disaster at nearby Pope Air Force Base began arriving in the emergency department. Two aircraft collided over a landing field causing immediate death and injuries to people on the planes. Subsequent falling debris caused further damage, mostly burns, to troops on the ground. Twenty-four people died and another one-hundred were injured [54]. Casualties were rushed to the emergency room at Womack Army Hospital. Horoho recalled: “We tried to reassure… [them] and asked them to hold on [55].” Because the emergency room could not hold the great number of injured, a triage unit was set up on the driveway outside the hospital. Horoho remembered: “Right after about the third scream, this hush just kind of came across the whole area and people just were clicking and doing exactly what they needed to do [56].” She is a resident graduate of the Army's Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of She probably drew on her experience from the Green Ramp disaster almost a decade later, when on another clear, warm day she took cared for victims of another unexpected air disaster, the terrorist attacks of September 11th. In 2001, Horoho, worked in the Pentagon as the Assistant Deputy for Personnel and Health Management. She was just beginning her day when there was a loud booming noise, and she could feel the building shake. She recalled thinking:

“We’ve been hit. This is it.” Everybody felt the same reaction and immediately started evacuating the building.… As soon as I got out, I knew that there were going to be victims coming out of the impact site and I knew that’s where I needed to be … When I arrived at the impact site there was a huge gaping hole in the middle of the building where the plane had hit … I was able to step into the building where it actually occurred, and saw people starting to come down who were injured, burned, with smoke inhalation, or dazed and cut.”[57]

Horoho continued:

“This is minutes after the explosion. As I was triaging, people assisted in ripping clothes off the burns [of the victims] so that it wasn’t constricting as well as to provide access to areas that we could start an IV … As this was all occurring, the FBI were monitoring the air threats and directed us to evacuate the area and find cover.”[58]

After 9/11, Horoho continued her career in the US Army Nurse Corps assuming

leadership positions at numerous bases around the country. In 2008 she became the 23rd Chief of the US Army Nurse Corps overseeing over 9,000 nurses in active duty and the reserves [59].

In 2010, she added the title and responsibilities of Deputy Surgeon General of the U.S.

Army to her already busy schedule. The pinnacle of her career so far is being the first woman and first nurse to serve as the Surgeon General and the Commanding General of the United States Army Medical Command, a post she assumed in December, 2011 [60].

Horoho has been recognized with many military awards including: the Distinguished Service Medal, the Order of Military Medical Merit medallion, Legion of Merit (2 OLC), Meritorious Service Medal (6 OLC) Army Commendation Medal (3OLC), and the Army Achievement Medal (1 OLC), the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, among other unit awards [61]. She was also recognized as a Legacy Laureate by the University of Pittsburgh in 2007, as the USO‘s Woman of the Year in 2009, and as the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill‘s Alumna of the Year in 2011 [62]. On March 2, 2012 she was honored with the first medal by the Veteran Women’s Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program [63]. In 1993 she was selected as one of The Great 100 Nurses in North Carolina, and in 1998 she co-authored a chapter that discusses training field hospitals, published by the U.S. Army Reserve Command Surgeon. In 2009 she was selected as the USO’s “woman of the Year.” In 2011 Horoho was selected as the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Alumna of the Year. In February 2012, she was also recognized by the University of Pittsburgh as a Distinguished Alumni Fellow. On March 2, 2012 she was honored with the First medal by the Veteran Women’s Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program [64].

Horoho may be most proud of her honors from Time Life Publications and the American Red Cross for the leadership and fearless compassion she displayed on 9/11/2001 at the Pentagon [65]. In 2011, Horoho deployed with I Corps, as the Special Assistant to the Commander, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command to Kabul Afghanistan. In a speech delivered while she was in Afghanistan on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Horoho inspired her listeners when she said:

“Seeing so many young men and women fighting the hard fight to make a difference in the world is, for me, a very humbling opportunity … We could not be more proud of our medical team – reserves, guardsmen and civilians – who have shown such dedication to supporting our war fighters and their families. My hope is that this 9/11 we celebrate being Americans and our strength as a nation [66].”

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