American newspapers dubbed her the “Woman Warrior” and said she led a “Petticoat Brigade”. From December 13, 1929, until she retired with the consent of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 15, 1937, Olive Lenore Hoskins was the only female in the United States Regular Army. But she never wore a uniform and never saluted a superior officer. The only ‘weapon’ she ever used was a typewriter.
Olive Hoskins was born at Santa Rosa, Sonoma, California, on December 2, 1882. She grew up in Palo Alto, Santa Clara. One of Ms Hoskins’ sisters worked for the Quartermaster’s Department and later the civil government in the Philippines, and Olive visited her there for 12 months in 1904-05, and again in 1907. On the latter visit, she sat and passed a civil service examination and on August 1, 1907, started a job with the US Army as a civil grade headquarters clerk in Manila, on $1200 a year. Ms Hoskins remained in the Philippines until November 1912, when she was transferred back to San Francisco. On August 29, 1916, her position was changed to Army field clerk and she was assigned to Mexico during the “Pancho Villa Expedition”, which lasted until February 7, 1917.
Back in California, Ms Hoskins tried to have herself sent to the Western Front in the First World War. In the Philippines she had befriended Charles Egbert Stanton, a former paymaster of volunteers in the US Army who served in the Spanish-American War and became a captain in the paymaster corps. Stanton was a lieutenant colonel on the staff of General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front, and served as Pershing’s chief disbursing officer. Ms Hoskins wrote to Washington saying that Stanton had requested her help in France. Instead, she was promoted to the intelligence unit of the Western Department headquarters in San Francisco. In 1919 she was reassigned to the Philippines, as personnel manager for the Judge Advocate’s Office. In 1922 Ms Hoskins returned to the US to work with the Seventh Army Corps in Omaha, Nebraska. She remained there until January 19, 1933, when she was once again sent to the Philippines. She resisted a transfer to Governors Island, New York, in 1934, but was ordered to duty in the Judge Advocate General’s office with the 6th Corps in Chicago in September 1935 and her final assignment from July 1936 until retirement on $140 a month in September 1937 was at the Ninth Corps headquarters in San Francisco. Ms Hoskins died at the Protestant-Episcopal Home on Lombard Street, San Francisco, on October 16, 1975, aged 92, and is buried at the Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, San Mateo, California.
One of Ms Hoskins’ brothers was Colonel John Oliver Hoskins (above), who died, aged 53, on January 22, 1942, while serving in World War II. He was commanding officer of the Philippine Department Headquarters. He was shot by Lieutenant Kawaguchi and buried by the Japanese at a road block on the Bagac-Morong Road, Bataan province, Luzon. His body was not recovered and he remains missing in action.