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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project


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Patricia Lynn Childers (b. 1950) had a twenty-four year career in the U.S. Navy, from 1972 to 1996, after which she became the director of field operations for Women in the Military Service for America Memorial.


Patricia Lynn Childers was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in February 1950. While enrolled at Brookville High School, she took part in a work-study program at a Lynchburg area hospital. She continued working at the hospital after her graduation in 1969 and took classes part-time at Lynchburg Central Virginia Community College.

Like her father and brother before her, Childers decided to join in the U.S. Navy. She enlisted in Roanoke, Virginia, in April 1972 and was sent to Orlando, Florida, for boot camp in October. She then attended Hospital Corps A School in Great Lakes, Illinois. After completing the program in April 1973, she was stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, until 1975. There she worked in the labor and delivery ward of the base clinic and served as WAVES master-at-arms. From March 1975 to December 1975, she worked in the internal medicine clinic at Naval Hospital Orlando.

Childers reenlisted for new orders and was assigned to the family practice clinic at the Memphis naval hospital in January 1976. There she and her fiancé, Steve Rowett, were married. In July 1977, the couple was sent to Naval Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia, where she transferred from nursing to personnel work. After a year, she was sent for overseas duty at Leeward Point Clinic in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she worked as a technician in several fields. In July 1979, Childers and her husband were stationed at Naval Regional Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida. From February to September 1982 she attended the Naval School of Health Sciences in Portsmouth, Virginia, and the Instructor School in Memphis.

Following completion of that training, she was assigned to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as the leading petty officer of staff education and training. While there she was made chief and oversaw the construction of a new hospital. From October 1985 to October 1987 Childers was assigned to U.S. Naval Hospital Rota, Spain, where she headed Operation Management and served as master-at-arms. Following that overseas duty she was stationed at the Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS). There she oversaw the assignment of physicians to ships during Operation Desert Shield and served as head of Administration Services. In March 1992 Childers was transferred to the Naval School of Health Services in Bethesda, Maryland, where she taught classes. Her final assignment was as the chief of the Arlington Annex Branch Clinic of the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda from November 1994 to 1996. Childers retired from the navy in October 1996, after twenty-four years of service.

After her retirement, Childers worked briefly at an ear, nose, and throat clinic in McLean, Virginia, while volunteering as a field representative for the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial. From 1997 to 2001, she served as director of field operations for WIMSA. Following the death of her husband, she moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where she enrolled at Methodist University and worked for McLaurin Parking Company. Childers remained active in WAVES National, Fleet Reserve Association, Disabled American Veterans, and American Legion.

Portrait of Patricia L. Childers, circa 1996
Item # WV0256.6.001
From the Patricia L. Childers Papers
Company 13 of the Naval Training Center, Orlando, 1972
Item # WV0256.6.002
From the Patricia L. Childers Papers
Oral history interview with Patricia L. Childers, 2002
Item # WV0256.5.001
From the Patricia L. Childers Papers

Military papers, 1972.