Clara Leach Adams-Ender
Prince William County
Chief of the United States Army Nurse Corps
The daughter of sharecroppers, Clara Mae Leach grew up in North Carolina. While attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, she joined the Army Student Nurse Program. After graduating in 1961, she was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. She taught at the Medical Training Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where she became the first woman in the army to qualify for the Expert Field Medical Badge.
Leach earned an MS in Medical Surgical Nursing from the University of Minnesota, and subsequently taught at Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing, in Washington, D.C. In 1976, she was the first woman to earn a Master of Military Art and Science from the Army's Command and General Staff College. While overseeing the nursing department at the army hospital in Frankfurt, Germany, she was promoted to the rank of colonel, and there met and married her second husband, Heinz Ender.
After attending the U.S. Army War College, Adams-Ender was promoted to brigadier general and made chief of the Army Nurse Corps in 1987. She commanded more than 20,000 nurses and led the Corps through combat operations Just Cause and Desert Storm. In 1991, she was picked to head Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and retired two years later as the first army nurse and the first African American woman to command a major army base. Her many awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Army Commendation Medal. Adams-Ender established and became president and CEO of a management consulting firm called Caring About People With Enthusiasm Associates, Inc., in Prince William County.