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First Name: Mary

Last Name: Hallaren

Birthplace: Lowell, USA, USA

Gender: Female

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Agnes

Maiden Name: Hallaren

Date of Birth: 04 May 1907

Date of Death: 13 February 2005

Rank: Colonel

Years Served:
Mary Agnes Hallaren

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Mary Agnes Hallaren
Colonel, U.S. Army

Mary Agnes Hallaren was born on 4 May 1907 in Lowell, MA, the daughter of John Joseph and Mary Kenney Hallaren. She graduated in 1925 from Lowell High School and attended Boston University and graduated from Lowell State Teachers College now University of Massachusetts Lowell. She taught junior high school for 15 years in Lexington, MA, spending her summers on vigorous walking tours, which she called "vagabonding," throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Europe.

In 1942, Hallaran entered the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, which later became the Women's Army Corps (WACs). A recruiter asked the diminutive Hallaran (she was barely five feet tall) how someone her size could help the military. She replied, "You don't have to be six feet tall to have a brain that works."

In 1943, as a Captain, she commanded the first women's battalion to go overseas. She served as Director of WAC personnel attached to the 8th and 9th Air Forces, and by 1945, as a Lieutenant Colonel, she commanded all WAC personnel in the European Theater of Operations (ETO).

By 1947, Hallaren was a Colonel, and was appointed Director of the entire WAC. On 12 June 1948, when the WAC was officially integrated into the Army, she became the first woman to serve as a Regular Army officer (there had been female members of the Army Medical Corps since 1947).

She served as Director until 1953 and then retired from the Army in 1960.

Medals and Awards

Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Army Commendation Medal

In Retirement

After retiring from the Army, she served in the U.S. Department of Labor as Director of the Women in Community Service Division. She retired in 1978, but continued to serve in an advisory capacity.

In the 1990s, she was a leading proponent of the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, which was dedicated in 1997. She was elected to the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1996 and was featured by Tom Brokaw in his book "The Greatest Generation."

Death and Burial

Colonel Mary Agnes Hallaren died on 13 February 2005 at the Arleigh Burke Pavilion, an assisted living facility for retired military personnel, in McLean, VA. She is buried at Saint Patrick Cemetery in Lowell, MA.

Honoree ID: 2591   Created by: MHOH




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