Esther Pierce Pulis Corcoran, Army officer, dies at 104
Wednesday, April 21, 2010; B06
Esther Pierce Pulis Corcoran, 104, who rose from a private in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps to a lieutenant colonel in the regular Army, died March 24 at Knollwood Retirement Center in Washington. She had Alzheimer's disease.
Col. Corcoran enlisted in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1943 as a private and was soon sent to Officer's Candidate School. The WAACs became the Women's Army Corps later that year. After graduation, she was assigned to prepare and keep current a reporting system on the condition of the Army Air Force Training Command's 101 technical facilities and airfields. President Harry S. Truman later commended her group for development of the system.
She went on, in 1945, to serve in the office of the assistant secretary of the Army's Personnel Policy Board, becoming an aide to Major Gen. Robert A. McClure, head of psychological warfare operations for the Army in Europe.
After the war, Col. Corcoran traveled with McClure throughout Germany to reestablish newspapers and radio communications during the occupation, choosing leaders and managers who had not been Nazis. In 1949, she became an executive officer in the Army's psychological warfare division, based at the Pentagon.
In 1951, she was among the first women chosen as a lieutenant colonel after the WACs were merged into the regular Army in 1948, according her oral history at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. She retired from the military in 1952.
Col. Corcoran was honored in November by first lady Michelle Obama at a White House tea for women formerly in the military.
Esther Pierce was born in Macon, Ga., and graduated from Georgia State College for Women in Milledgeville, Ga. She married in 1928 and traveled with her husband, Lester W. Pulis, as he opened General Motors dealerships in Japan. He died in 1942.
In 1952 she married Howard F. Corcoran, who became a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He died in 1989.
Col. Corcoran was a founding member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington County and donated the artwork of military icons that is displayed over the reception desk in the foyer. She enjoyed playing golf and bridge at the Congressional Club, studying art, traveling abroad and entertaining. She moved to the Army Distaff Foundation/Knollwood in 1989, where she was active until last year.
No immediate family members survive her.
-- Patricia Sullivan