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Women’s History month

by on March 31, 2014

In March we celebrate Women’s History month. What women have done to contribute to the history of this great nation. Today I would like to mention a few of those amazing military women. First let me say how proud I am to be serving in the Military as a black woman. We have prevailed so much, from not being able to serve in the military to serving as nurses, water bearers, cooks, laundresses and saboteurs. Years later women were able to serves as Yeoman (F) and now here we are in 2014 holding any position a man can. We have overcome so many hurdles, equal opportunity including equal pay not only in the Military but in everything we do, from being business owners, executives, authors, actresses, mechanics, teachers, athletes, homemakers and the list goes on. We have proven that we are just as good. I am thankful for all the women that have opened the path for me to be who I am today.

Cathy Williams– First African American female to enlist in the Army.

On Nov. 15, 1866, Cathay Williams enlisted in the Army using the name William Cathay. She informed her recruiting officer that she was a 22-year-old cook. He described her as 5′ 9″, with black eyes, black hair and black complexion. An Army surgeon examined Cathay and determined the recruit was fit for duty, thus sealing her fate in history as the first documented black woman to enlist in the Army even though U.S. Army regulations forbade the enlistment of women. She was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry and traveled throughout the West with her unit. During her service, she was hospitalized at least five times, but no one discovered she was a female. After less than two years of service, Cathay was given a disability discharge but little is known of the exact medical reasons.

Loretta Perfectus Walsh- The first American active-duty Navy woman, and the first woman allowed to serve as a woman, in any of the United States armed forces, as anything other than as a nurse, when she enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on March 17, 1917. On 21 March 1917, YNC Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first female Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy.

Edna Young-  The first black enlisted female to serve in the regular Navy in 1948; retired as a Chief.

Esther McGowin Blake-  The first woman in the Air Force. She enlisted in the first minute of the first hour of the first day regular Air Force duty was authorized for women on July 8, 1948. Blake originally enlisted in March 1944, in Miami in the Army Air Forces, served one year in the Alaskan division and was discharged in November 1945. She reenlisted in April 1947 and was assigned to the ground force but seized the first opportunity to return to the Army Air Forces. Service in the nation’s armed forces was nothing new for Mrs. Blake.

Opha Mae Johnson- The first woman Marine. Johnson enrolled for service on August 13, 1918; during that year some 300 women first entered the Marine Corps to take over stateside clerical duties from battle-ready Marines who were needed overseas. The Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was established in February 1943. June 12th, 1948, Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act and made women a permanent part of the regular Marine Corps.

Annie Neal Graham- The first black female to enlist in the United States Marine Corps on 8 September 1949.

Genevieve and Lucille Baker- Twin sisters of the Naval Coastal Defense Reserve became the first uniformed women to serve in the Coast Guard (1918).

Olivia Hooker, D. Winifred Byrd, Julia Mosley, Yvonne Cumberbatch, and Aileen Cooke- the first five African-American females entered the U. S. Coast Guard Reserve (SPARs) in 1945.

Dr. Sally Ride- The first American woman in space was also the youngest American astronaut ever to orbit Earth.

Mae Jemison- The first black female astronaut (1992).

Deborah Sampson changed her name to Robert Shurtlief to fight in the Revolutionary War and was wounded twice. Elizabeth Newcom enlisted as Bill Newcom to serve in the Mexican War, she was discharged from the military when they found out she was a woman. Sarah Rosetta Wakeman enlisted as Pvt. Lyons Wakeman to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. They are among the more than 2.5 million women who have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution, contributing to the nation’s security and setting examples of courage, service and commitment to freedom Military leaders began relying on women in large numbers during the Spanish American War, assigning 1,500 contract nurses to Army hospitals. By the end of World War II, more than 110,000 women had served as military nurses and more than 400,000 had served in noncombat jobs at home and overseas. In 1948, the U.S. Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, granting women permanent status in the Regular and Reserve forces of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Today the tradition continues. Women serve in almost every capacity in the armed forces, including in combat zones on land, at sea and in the skies. More than 90,000 women have served as fighter pilots, medics, military police and in other positions since the start of the global war on terror on Sept. 11, 2001. Currently, almost 16,000 women are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and related areas. (The Department of Defense).

“It was said long ago by a visitor to America – Alexis de Tocqueville – that the American woman thinks for herself, speaks with freedom and acts on her own impulse. I would add that she also chooses to defend freedom – her own and that of others.” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Nov. 3, 2007




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One Comment
  1. Great post, nice to learn about these women 🙂

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