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Elizabeth Paschel Hoisington (November 3, 1918 – August 21, 2007) was an United States Army officer who was one of the first two women to attain the rank of Brigadier General.
Born in Newton, Kansas on November 3, 1918, Elizabeth Hoisington was a 1940 graduate of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. During World War II the United States Army expanded opportunities for women beyond nursing by creating the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).
Elizabeth Hoisington enlisted in the WAACs in November 1942 and completed her basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. At the time, women were required to serve in units before they could apply to Officer Candidate School (OCS), so Private Hoisington went to a WAAC aircraft early warning unit in Bangor, Maine.
The company commander recognized her talents and made her the First Sergeant soon after her arrival.
"From Private to First Sergeant, that was my greatest promotion in the Army." ~General Hoisington
She later said that she then sought out the most grizzled male First Sergeant she could find and asked him to teach her what she needed to know. She claimed that he did such a good job that when she reached OCS she never had to open a book.
Hoisington was commissioned in May, 1943 as a WAAC Third Officer. When the auxiliary became the Women's Army Corps (WAC) a month later, its officers changed to standard Army ranks, and Hoisington became a Second Lieutenant. She deployed to Europe, serving in France after D-Day. Hoisington continued her career after World War II and advanced through the rank to Colonel as she commanded WAC units in Japan, Germany and France, and served in staff assignments in San Francisco and at the Pentagon.
She was appointed the seventh Director of the Women's Army Corps on August 1, 1965 and served from 1966 to 1971. As Director during the Vietnam War she visited WACs serving in Saigon and Long Binh in September 1967. According to some sources, Hoisington discouraged sending Army women to Vietnam because she believed the controversy would deter progress in expanding the overall role of women in the Army.
Promotion to Brigadier General
On May 15, 1970, President Nixon announced the first women selected for promotion to Brigadier General: Anna Mae Hays, Chief of the Army Nurse Corps, and Hoisington.
On June 11, 1970 Hays and Hoisington became the first two women to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Army. According to the Army Nurse Corps Association, Hays was the first woman in the United States Armed Forces to wear the insignia of a brigadier general." Hays and Hoisington were promoted on the same day within minutes of each other.
The Hoisington and Hays promotions resulted in positive public relations for the Army, including appearances on the Dick Cavett, David Frost and "Today" shows. Hoisington, who was noted for her quick smile and ebullient personality, also appeared as a mystery guest on the popular game show "What's My Line?"
Hoisington retired on August 1, 1971.
Her grandfather, Colonel Perry Milo Hoisington I, helped to organize the Kansas National Guard. Her father, Gregory Hoisington, was a graduate of West Point and a Colonel in the Army. He was a direct descendant of Ebenezer Hoisington, a founder of the state of Vermont, who served during the American Revolution.
Her brother, Perry Hoisington II, was a United States Air Force General. Elizabeth Hoisington’s 1970 promotion made them the first brother and sister Generals in the United States military.
She was survived by a younger brother, Robert, and a sister, Nancy. She never married.
Death and burial
General Hoisington died in Springfield, Virginia on August 21, 2007 at the age of 88. She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.