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Health and Medicine

225 years of Tar Heels: Patricia Horoho

After graduating from Carolina in 1982, Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho went on to become the first female and the first nurse to be the Army surgeon general.

Patricia Horoho
Patricia Horoho during her talk to students from the School of Nursing and the Kenan Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

225 Years.Editor’s note: In honor of the University’s 225th anniversary, we will be sharing profiles throughout the academic year of some of the many Tar Heels who have left their heelprint on the campus, their communities, the state, the nation and the world.

When Carolina alumna Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho retired from the military, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley spoke about Horoho’s efforts when she was deployed to Afghanistan.

“I was there [in Afghanistan] to witness her performance, and it was incredible. There are many, many lives today that would not be living without the efforts of Patty Horoho,” Milley said at the 2015 ceremony.

In Afghanistan, Horoho improved tactical combat casualty care, medevac procedures, tele-behavioral health, resiliency training and more, Milley said.

In 2011, after her deployment, President Barack Obama nominated Horoho to be the Army surgeon general. She became the first female and the first nurse to hold this position.

Horoho was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Carolina in 1982, a master’s from the University of Pittsburgh in 1992 and a master’s degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

She led a distinguished career as a leader. Her leadership includes deployments in Haiti and Kabul, Afghanistan. In the United States, she has served as chief of the Army Nurse Corps, commanding general of the Western Regional Medical Command and Madigan Army Medical Center, commander of the Walter Reed Health Care System and commander of DeWitt Army Community Hospital.

Horoho has received many military awards and citations, including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, France’s National Order of Legion of Honor, Chevalier (Knight) and Japan’s Defense Cooperation Award Second Class.

At Carolina, she has received a distinguished alumna award and an honorary doctorate, and, in 2011, the School of Nursing recognized her as the alumna of the year.

When speaking about her Carolina education, Horoho has said: “I have always known I was destined to pursue a life dedicated to public service. What I didn’t realize fully at the time, or even when I first entered a career dedicated to public service, was the real education I received at UNC was in caring, honor and dedication to mission.”