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Secretary Announces All Military Occupations Open to Women
"Women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They'll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars, and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They'll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALS, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men. And even more importantly, our military will be better able to harness the skills and perspectives that talented women have to offer."
Defense Secretary Ash Carter
Full Speech >
Carter Opens All Military Occupations to Women
Dec. 3, 2015
The U.S. military is authorized to begin integrating women across all occupations and specialties “right away,” according to a Defense Department statement. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook briefed reporters on Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s decision and the accompanying statement. Story | Statement
Defense Secretary Ash Carter talks about how and why the U.S. military is now opening up the last combat positions to women and provides a few key examples that illustrate how we will proceed in a deliberate and methodical manner that will make our force stronger. More
Air Force Capt. Heather Stickney, whose childhood love of science and flight got her into aerospace engineering, gives advice to young people who share that love. More
Since 1980, more than 4,600 women have graduated from the Naval Academy and have gone on to excel in their military careers and beyond. More
Army Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West is the 44th surgeon general of the Army and commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Command...
Air Force 1st Lt. Jennifer “Jenn” Bishop assumed the duties of missile combat crew commander...
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Tomeka L. Parker assumed the duties of superintendent, Equal Opportunity...
Christiana N. Porter is an all-source intelligence analyst, Joint Intelligence Center, Intelligence Directorate, U.S. Special Operations Command....
Since January 2015, Dr. Kristin Farry has served as lead technologist for the Navy’s Rapid Capability Engineering and Integration Department...
As the integrated product team lead for the P-8A Poseidon program, Navy Cmdr. Molly Boron leads a team of more than 2,000...
Wendy J. Jernigan began her 34-year civil service career, Aug. 24, 1981, as a part-time tuition clerk at Frankfurt Junior High School...
Chelsea Bowman was born outside the continental United States while her father served as an active-duty soldier...
Army Sgt. 1st Class Sue-Ellyn S. Baker is a native of the island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines...
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shannon B. Harden is a logistics specialist assigned to Commissioned Reserve Command, NCHB-13...
Army Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West is the 44th surgeon general of the Army and commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Command.
West is a graduate of the U. S. Military Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. She attended the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., where she earned a Doctorate of Medicine.
West completed her internship and residency in family medicine at Martin Army Hospital, Fort Benning, Georgia. During this assignment she deployed with the 197th Infantry Brigade, 24th Infantry Division during Operation Desert Shield and was attached to the 2/69th Armor Battalion during Desert Storm. She then served at Blanchfield Army Hospital, Fort Campbell, Kentucky as a staff family physician and then the officer in charge of the Aviation Medicine Clinic. While there, West participated in a medical mission with the 5th Special Forces Group Airborne.
West completed a second residency in dermatology at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center and the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver, Colorado. She was then assigned as the chief of Dermatology Service at Heidelberg Army Hospital in Germany. In her subsequent assignment, she served as the division surgeon of the 1st Armored Division, Bad Kreuznach, Germany; deploying to the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo as the deputy task force surgeon.
She was then assigned as chief of the Department of Medicine and the Dermatology Service at 121st General Hospital in Seoul, South Korea. West later commanded McDonald Army Community Hospital, Fort Eustis, Virginia. Following command, she served as the deputy commander for Integration at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland where she became the first Army officer to join the leadership team. She then served as the J-3, director of operations for Joint Task Force National Capital Regional Medical. Following this assignment West commanded Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina and then went on to serve as the commanding general, Europe Regional Medical Command.
Following command in Europe, West served as the deputy chief of staff, G1/4/6, Office of the Surgeon General, Falls Church, Virginia. She then moved to her most recent assignment as the joint staff surgeon at the Pentagon. As the joint staff surgeon, she served as the chief medical advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and coordinated on all issues related to health services including operational medicine, force health protection and readiness within the military.
West completed the Army Medical Department Officer Basic and Advanced Courses and the Army Command and General Staff College. She is also a graduate of the National War College where she earned a Master of Science in National Security Strategy.
West’s awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the NATO Medal, various campaign medals, the Combat Medical Badge, the Flight Surgeon Badge, the Army Parachutist Badge, the Army Air Assault Badge, and the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge in Gold. She is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit and the Order of Saint Christopher and is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Family Practice.
Air Force 1st Lt. Jennifer “Jenn” Bishop assumed the duties of missile combat crew commander, 10th Missile Squadron, 341st Operations Group, 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, in March 2013.
As missile combat crew commander, Bishop leads a combat crew of two and provides nuclear combat capability to the president in support of national objectives.
During her day-to-day operations, she is responsible for the safe, secure and reliable operation of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles operated from an assigned launch control center located throughout a 13,800-square-mile complex in central Montana, the largest Minuteman missile complex in the Western Hemisphere.
Prior to her current assignment, Bishop worked with the Airborne Warning and Control System at various bases, including Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma; Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, Germany; and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Bishop entered the Air Force in 2001 as a Basic Military Training graduate. A graduate of Excelsior College in Albany, New York, Bishop holds bachelor of science degrees in psychology and biology. She earned her commission through Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, in 2013.
Her awards include Airman Leadership School Leadership Award, 2005; NATO E-3A Basic Qualification Distinguished Graduate, 2007; NATO E-3A Instructor Qualification Distinguished Graduate, 2009; and Arctic Survival School “Polar Bear” Leadership Award, 2011. Her decorations include theJoint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Tomeka L. Parker assumed the duties of superintendent, Equal Opportunity operations, Air Force Personnel Center, Joint Base San Antonio, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, on Sept. 29, 2014.
In this capacity, Sergeant Parker oversees Air Force EO operations in support of 12 major commands, 87 installation-level EO offices and 360 EO professionals. She serves as principal advisor to the Air Force EO program manager on matters pertaining to sexual harassment and discrimination and aids in the development of Defense Department and Air Force EO policies impacting 3.7 million total force personnel.
Prior to assuming her current duties, Parker served as the EO director at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, where she was principal advisor to the wing commander on all matters of EO and treatment policies and programs. She supported 1,500 military and civilian personnel assigned to two groups, eight squadrons, one tenant unit and two geographically separated units on concerns of unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment, human relations education, organizational assessments and alternative dispute resolution. During her tenure at Grand Forks, she garnered the 2011 Air Force EO Director of the Year and 2014 Headquarters Air Mobility Command EO Director of the Year awards.
A graduate of Troy University with a bachelor of science degree in resource management, Parker holds a master of science, with distinction, degree in human resource management and personnel labor relations from New York Institute of Technology.
Parker's Air Force career includes diverse duties in both the logistics readiness and EO career fields. Her assignments include bases in Alabama, Turkey, Korea, Guam and North Dakota, as well as five deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.
Her awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
Christiana N. Porter is an all-source intelligence analyst, Joint Intelligence Center, Intelligence Directorate, U.S. Special Operations Command.
She assumed her duties as part of the Trans-regional Threat Network Branch in October 2012 after four years at U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart Germany.
Porter serves as lead intelligence analyst focused on efforts to counter violent Sunni extremists globally. She networks across the global special operations force and defense intelligence enterprise while building collaborative relationships and leading conferences and working groups with combatant commands, task forces, theater special operations commands and the intelligence community. Her efforts synchronized Defense Department efforts countering the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, reduced redundancy across the enterprise and highlighted the need for additional counter-ISIL policies outside Syria and Iraq.
She has deployed to numerous combat and noncombat areas, providing tactical and operational intelligence support. Service as the senior intelligence analyst in the Stability Operations Center, Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, in 2011, as intelligence analyst in support of another government organization in Baghdad in 2013, and as the J2 for Special Operations Command-Forward in Lebanon in 2015 are among her assignments.
A graduate of Strayer University with a bachelor of science degree in international business, Porter holds a master of science in peace operations in public policy degree from George Mason University.
Porter’s career includes 19 years of service in the U.S. Army with more than eight years of active duty in addition to 10 years of Army Reserve duty. She still serves as a captain in the Army Reserve as an all-source intelligence analyst, most recently in the Lebanon position. She also has served in support of Joint Special Operations Task Force Trans Sahara and Defense Counter Terrorism Center.
She established and leads U.S. Special Operations Command’s first Women in Leadership group focused on the development and advancement of women leaders in special operations forces positions.
Her awards and decorations include the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Chelsea Bowman was born outside the continental United States while her father served as an active duty soldier. She lived on several different Army bases in the United States and Germany before settling in Fayetteville, North Carolina, after her father’s retirement as a first sergeant in 2001.
After graduating from Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2009, and a master’s in business administration in 2011. While completing her master’s degree, she began her government civilian career as a GS-5 in the student education employment program and was nominated as student employee of the year by the program division chief.
Bowman has shown the desire and drive to constantly learn by pursuing further financial and leadership education in the federal system. She was certified as a Level 2 Financial Manager in 2016 and is pursuing a Master Certificate in Federal Financial Management. She has attended multiple leadership courses, including the Army Management Staff College Basic Course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the six-month Special Operations Aspiring Leadership Program.
Bowman was hired full time as a budget analyst in the student career experience program.
She moved from serving as an student administrative assistant at U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters in the G-8 programming division to serving the deputy comptroller and budget analyst responsible for the budgeting, programming, planning, forecasting and execution of ongoing operations and theater-unique resource support requirements for forward deployed assets conducting overseas contingency operations.
In that role, Bowman analyzes data for accuracy, reasonableness, consistency of estimates, adequacy of justification and compliance with prescribed fiscal laws, policies, and regulations. She also monitors and provides guidance concerning the financial component of all Title X functions associated with the group's organization, personnel, training, service, supply and procurement. She advises unit executive officers and staff on financial management issues..
Wendy J. Jernigan began her 34-year civil service career, Aug. 24, 1981, as a part-time tuition clerk at Frankfurt Junior High School in Germany. She also served as a clerk typist at Frankfurt Junior High and as a medical transcription clerk in the patient administrative division of the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt.
Upon her arrival at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 1984, Jernigan continued in clerical positions with the Directorate of Engineering and Housing, Contract Inspection Branch and Engineering Division.
In December 1987, she was assigned as the secretary for the Office of the Inspector General, with subsequent secretarial and administrative assignments in the Directorate of Training and Doctrine and the offices of the chief of staff, the deputy commanding general and the commanding general, as well as the Army Special Operations Capabilities Integration Center at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. Throughout her assignments at Fort Bragg, Jernigan advanced from GS-03 to GS-11.
In 2011, she was selected as the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Civilian Employee of the Quarter and as Civilian of the Year. Jernigan is the recipient of three Commander’s Awards for Service and the Superior Service Award.
She resides at Fort Bragg with her husband of 37 years, Mark, and serves as operations officer for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9, Future Warfare Division.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Sue-Ellyn S. Baker is a native of the island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. She enlisted in the Army in August 2000 as a personnel administrative specialist. Baker’s current Primary Military Occupational Specialty is 42A, Human Resources Sergeant.
She is assigned as the noncommissioned officer in charge, G-1, personnel and administration, at the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Other duty assignments include; personnel administrative specialist for the 177th Military Police Detachment, Fort Drum, New York; assistant personnel services noncommissioned officer, 538th Ordnance Battalion, 6th Ordnance Battalion, Camp Carroll, Korea; enlisted promotions noncommissioned officer, 82nd Paratroopers Support Battalion, Fort Bragg; human resources sergeant, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Bragg; Advanced Leaders Course small group leader and senior small group leader and S-1 noncommissioned officer in charge at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She has deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Baker has also served as the battalion senior human resources sergeant for the 94th Military Police Battalion, Camp Humphreys, Korea. Her most recent assignment was with the 9th Military Information Support Battalion, Fort Bragg, where she also served as the battalion senior human resources sergeant.
Baker’s military education includes the Basic Leader Course, Advanced Leaders Course (Distinguished Honor Graduate), Senior Leaders Course (Commandant’s List), Army Basic Instructor Course, Small Group Instruction Course, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention Course, Basic Airborne Course, Field Sanitation Course, Unit Prevention Leaders Course and the Brigade S-1 Operations Course.
Her awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (1), Army Commendation Medal (6), Army Achievement Medal (1), Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal (5), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (3), Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (3), and the NATO Medal. She is also a recipient of the Horatio Gates Bronze Medal for significant achievement and Service to the Adjutant General’s Corps..
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shannon B. Harden is a logistics specialist assigned to Commissioned Reserve Command, Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 13 in Gulfport, Mississippi. She serves as the battalion supply chief, headquarters’ leading petty officer, command fitness leader, sexual assault prevention and response victim advocate, suicide prevention coordinator, operational stress coordinator, and victim and witness assistance coordinator. Previous duties include training, operations, and sponsorship leading petty officer.
Before joining the Navy Reserve, she served on active duty in the Army, where she served as her battalion’s Equal Opportunity Commission liaison and began her work with victims of abuse, sexual assault, physical assault, domestic violence and discrimination. Harden has spent more than 15 years educating and working toward the prevention of injustices.
As a civilian working for the Navy’s Fleet and Family Support Center, she is the sexual assault response coordinator for four installations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Harden is responsible for the recruitment, training and management of more than 200 uniformed victim advocates, facilitating prevention activities and training to more than 4,000 sailors across her area of responsibility while providing crisis response and ongoing care of victims of sexual assault. She was part of a team who received the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Innovation Award in 2015. Her next duty assignment is in Sigonella, Italy, as the sexual assault response coordinator for that region.
As a community leader, she volunteers for a wide range of organizations, such as No Aids Task Force, Villalobos Rescue, and the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence. Harden also volunteers with the Mississippi Attorney General’s office, helping to train new police academy cadets in domestic violence scenarios. She has previously worked with Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana, Junior League, Hands On New Orleans, Capital Area Animal Welfare Society and the Audubon Zoo.
Her significant career accomplishments include a Navy Achievement Medal in 2011, early promotion to logistics specialist 1st class through the Command Advancement Program in 2013, earning the expeditionary warfare designation in 2015 and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal in 2015.
Harden is a cum laude graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She also holds an associate’s degree in social and behavior science, with honors, from Phoenix College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.
Since January 2015, Dr. Kristin Farry has served as lead technologist for the Navy’s Rapid Capability Engineering and Integration Department, leading all science and technology initiatives. As the lead technologist, she provides the overall technical leadership, advocacy, direction, and program evaluation of competency science- and technology-related efforts. Farry has been enormously successful in facilitating Naval Innovative Science and Engineering program projects and education requests. She has been a tireless advocate, mentor and facilitator of innovation.
Born in Ohio, Farry earned her bachelor’s in aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia in 1980. In 1988, she earned a master’s in aerospace engineering at Princeton University. In 1995, she earned her doctorate in electrical and computer engineering at Rice University. Farry has contributed to the Defense Department’s technology base and product development for much of her 35-year career.
From January 2010 to December 2014, Farry led Naval Air Systems Command integrated product teams on programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter, Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, and the MQ-4C Triton. She increased accountability to technical and contractual requirements and focused the programs on capability delivery.
Farry performed a similar role as an independent contractor on the engineering development model for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt guided missile destroyer’s Integrated Power System, or IPS, assisting Naval Sea Systems Command Carderock. On that program, she led an independent verification and validation effort that clarified and validated IPS requirements for the all-electric ship, phased the IPS development, and guided the independent verification team to converge on two of three of the engineering development model’s major objectives in just 15 months.
Farry has also contributed to technology transition for DoD in various capacities and developed testing techniques pushing the envelope of high-speed data capture and analysis. She was the advisor to the chief scientist (and later director) of the materials laboratory for control systems for their advanced manufacturing initiatives with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for robotic and automated manufacturing.
From 1995 to 2000, Farry developed an international reputation as a requirements definition and management expert. With colleague Ivy Hooks, she wrote one of the requirements management classics of the past two decades, “Customer-Centered Products: Creating Successful Products through Smart Requirements Management.”
From 1990 to 2000, she made fundamental technical contributions to telerobotics and upper-limb prosthetics. Her work was pivotal in shifting the prevailing mindset in upper-limb prosthetics control to more natural, simultaneous multi-axis control. For this work, Farry was awarded United States Patent Number. 6,272,479.
She also pioneered the concept of using an amputee's "phantom limb" to generate consistent control commands and lower the amputee's prosthesis control workload. Her work became part of the foundation for DARPA's Revolutionizing Prosthetics programs and is being transitioned into DoD and Virginia clinics to help wounded service members.
Farry continued to contribute to DoD programs while at NASA from 1988 to 1990. She was a Space Shuttle Mission Control Center flight controller for two DoD Space Shuttle missions (STS-26 and STS-32). She was the senior engineer of an operations team who transitioned a new space shuttle payload deployment system specifically for large DoD payloads from the development team all the way through its first operation use.
Throughout her career, Farry has been an active pilot (now holding glider, single-engine, and multi-engine ratings) and has contributed to civil aviation. She is also a farmer and partner in a family owned 450-acre sheep and cattle operation. Additionally, she has served as a humanitarian aide in cultural exchange visits to Russia and Bolivia.
As the integrated product team lead for the P-8A Poseidon program, Navy Cmdr. Molly Boron leads a team of more than 2,000 government and industry personnel executing the $35 billion program at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The Poseidon is the U.S. Navy’s premier maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. The program has achieved $7 billion in life-cycle cost savings through Better Buying Power initiatives.
As a qualified P-3 Orion and P-8A Poseidon pilot, Boron led Patrol Squadron 16, the Navy’s first squadron to transition from the Orion to the Poseidon. In May 2012, she became the first commanding officer of a Poseidon squadron when she assumed command of VP-16 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida.
The Navarre, Ohio, native was also awarded the 2012 Navy and Marine Association Leadership Award and the 2013 Captain Winifred Quick Collins Award for Inspirational Leadership in addition to various personal awards, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.
Boron graduated in 1995 from the Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in oceanography. She completed carrier qualifications in the TA-4J Skyhawk aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy, and graduated Naval Flight School in December 1998. She reported to Fighter Squadron 101 for training in the F-14A/B Tomcat. Following a transition to the P-3C Orion in March 2001, Boron reported to Patrol Squadron 45 in Jacksonville and completed two deployments from bases in Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Iceland and Sigonella, Italy.
In 2004, she was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as a catapult and arresting officer or “shooter,” deploying to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In 2006, Boron reported to Patrol Squadron 40 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, as an operations and maintenance department head and detachment officer in charge of Commander, Task Group 57.2. While there, she completed a dual-site deployment to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth and Seventh Fleets.
Boron has served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff as an executive assistant within the force structure, resources and assessment directorate, and as assistant program manager for systems engineering and P-3/Airborne Multi-Intelligence Special Mission Aircraft deputy lead for the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office at Naval Air Systems Command.
Women commonly serve in ‘traditional’ roles within the U.S. Army, such as cooks, laundresses, nurses and seamstresses. Military garrisons count on these roles to makes service members' lives tolerable. However, some women choose to forgo traditional roles by serving in combat alongside their husbands or disguised as men, while others serve as spies.
Mary Marshall and Mary Allen serve as nurses aboard Commodore Stephen Decatur's ship, the United States.
Dr. Mary Edwards Walker volunteers to care for wounded service members in the Union Army and is later appointed the first female surgeon. In 1865, she receives the Medal of Honor for her work and is still the only woman to have received the award.
Feb. 2: Under the Army Reorganization Act Congress officially establishes the Army Nurse Corps.
May: The Navy Nurse Corps is established by Congress, but no provision is made for ranks or ratings comparable to the Navy's male personnel. While they never held military ranks, the Navy nurses have since been accorded privileges similar to those of officers. Under a congressional enactment approved by President Roosevelt, July 3, 1942, members of the Navy Nurse Corps were granted relative rank.
March 17: Loretta Perfectus Walsh becomes the first woman to serve in the Navy as other than a nurse. Female yeomen -- administrative and clerical workers -- serve stateside during World War I. Most of the 11,000 women who enlist work in Washington, D.C., and serve as draftsmen, interpreters, couriers and translators. Later in World War I, the Navy enlists 24 African-American women who work in the Navy Department building.
August 13: Opha Mae Johnson becomes the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve in Washington, D.C. More than 300 women ultimately enlist in the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve during World War I.
May 15: President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorizes the creation of the Army, Navy and Coast Guard women's auxiliary/reserves. The Army's female auxiliary is called the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, or WAAC; the Navy’s is Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES; and women serving in the Coast Guard Auxiliary are known as SPARs, from the Coast Guard motto: Semper Paratus, Always Ready.
July 1: The WAACs transition into the Women's Army Corps, giving the more than 76,000 women who had enlisted as WAACs full military status. The corps first director, Col. Oveta Culp Hobby, continues in her post as the WAACs transition to WACs. The U.S. Marine Corps creates a Women's Reserve.
June 12: The Women's Armed Services Integration Act grants women permanent regular and reserve status in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the newly created Air Force.
Aug. 7: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Barbara Olive Barnwell becomes the first female Marine to be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal after saving a fellow Marine from drowning in the Atlantic Ocean in 1952.
March 18: Marine Corps Master Sgt. Barbara Jean Dulinsky becomes the first female Marine to serve in a combat zone in Vietnam. She is assigned to U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam combat operations center in Saigon.
February: Navy Lt. j.g. Barbara Ann Allen Rainey earns her wings as the service's first female aviator.
President Gerald R. Ford signs Public Law 94-106 on Oct. 7, 1975, permitting women to enroll in U.S. military academies beginning in the fall of 1976.
Women enter the service academies as students for the first time; 119 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, 81 at the U.S. Naval Academy, and 157 at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Women also enter the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Merchant Marine academies.
September: The U.S. Coast Guard assigns its first co-ed crews when 24 women are assigned to serve aboard the Coast Guard Cutters Gallatin and Morgenthau. Each ship receives 12 female crew members -- two officers and 10 enlisted personnel.
May 11: Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Margaret A. Brewer becomes the first female general in the Corps' history.
November: Navy Capt. Joan C. Bynum becomes the Navy’s first African-American female captain.
May: The first co-ed classes begin to graduate from the service academies.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Darlene Iskra becomes the first woman to command a commissioned naval ship when she assumes command of the USS Opportune in Naples, Italy.
On Jan. 13, 1993, then-Air Force Maj. Susan Helms, a member of the Space Shuttle Endeavor crew, became the first U.S. military woman in space. Helms, who retired in April 2014 as a lieutenant general commanding the 14th Air Force, logged a total of 5,064 hours in space, including a spacewalk of 8 hours and 56 minutes in 2001 -- a world record for longest spacewalk duration.
April 28: Defense Secretary Les Aspin announces a new policy regarding women in combat that rescinds the 1988 "risk rule" and replaces it with a less restrictive ground combat policy. As a result of this policy, 80 percent of all military positions can now be filled by either men or women.
Oct. 1: Marine Corps Col. Gilda Jackson becomes the first African-American woman to achieve the rank of colonel within the regular Marine Corps and the first woman to command the Naval Aviation Depot at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
September 1: Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter becomes the first female three-star general officer in the U.S. military when she is named deputy chief of staff for manpower and reserve affairs at Marine Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C.
July: Marine Corps Capt. Vernice Armour becomes the first female African-American pilot in the Marine Corps. In March 2003, during the first Gulf War, Armour becomes the first African-American female combat pilot.
June 16: Air Force Maj. Nicole Malachowski joins the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team, becoming the first female pilot to join one of the U.S. military’s high-performance jet teams.
June 24: Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Jeanine McIntosh-Menze, left, becomes the first female African-American Coast Guard pilot.
August 2: Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Angela Salinas works her way through the ranks to make history by becoming the first female Hispanic brigadier general in the Corps. On August 4, Salinas becomes the first female to command Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
November 14: Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody becomes the first female four-star general in the U.S. armed forces.
March: The first U.S. Marine Corps female engagement team conducts its first mission in Afghanistan. June 19: Coast Guard Lt. Felicia Thomas becomes the first female African-American commander of a Coast Guard cutter when she assumes command of the Pea Island.
February 19: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announces that for the first time, women can be assigned to submarines.
April 9: Coast Guard Lt. j.g. La'Shonda Holmes becomes the first female African-American helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard.
July 29: Navy Rear Adm. Nora Tyson becomes the first female commander of a carrier strike group.
June 3: Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz becomes the first female superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. She is the first woman to lead a U.S. service academy.
September: Connie R. Almueti is the first woman to be inducted into the Civil Affairs Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Special Warfare Command and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
January 24: Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta lifts the direct ground combat exclusion rule for female service members, paving the way for all combat occupations and specialties to eventually be opened to women.
July 1: Navy Adm. Michelle Janine Howard becomes the first woman to attain the rank of four-star admiral in the Navy's 238-year history.
January - April: The U.S. Army allocates 40 slots for female candidates in each of four iterations of the Army Ranger Training Assessment Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. Female soldiers who successfully complete the course requirements will be invited to attend the Ranger School in April.
January: All military occupations and positions open to women, without exception. For the first time in military history, qualified women will be able to contribute to the Defense Department mission with no barriers in their way.
"During Women's History Month, we remember the trailblazers of the past, including the women who are not recorded in our history books, and we honor their legacies by carrying forward the valuable lessons learned from the powerful examples they set."
- President Barack Obama
Each year, the National Women’s History Project selects a theme that highlights achievements by distinguished women. This year's theme -- Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government -- highlights women who have shaped America’s history and its future through their public service and government leadership.
In 2012, Air Force Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger became the first female four-star general in the Air Force. After receiving her fourth star, she became the commander of Air Force Material Command. She had previously served as military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition at the Pentagon, where she oversaw research and development, testing, production, and modernization of an annual $40 billion in Air Force programs.
Clara Louise Maass volunteered to serve as a contract nurse during the Spanish American War in 1898. After the end of the war, she participated in an experimental program in Cuba to determine the cause of yellow fever. During her time researching and caring for the sick, she became infected and died.
Grace Hopper joined the Naval Reserve during World War I and continued to work for the Navy as a reservist. In 1952, the computer-programming pioneer developed a program that translated programming language into machine-readable code -- the first step in the creation of the universal programming language, COBOL. She served for 30 years and was honored posthumously with the christening of the USS Hopper in 1996.
Tulsi Gabbard was born in American Samoa in 1981 and moved to Hawaii at age two. In 2003, she joined the Hawaii National Guard and volunteered to deploy to Iraq. When she was sworn in as a congresswoman in 2013, Gabbard became one of the first two female combat veterans, the first Hindu, and the first woman of Samoan ancestry to serve as a member of the U.S. Congress. Gabbard continues to serve in the Hawaii National Guard’s 29th Brigade Combat Team.
Maria Mestre de los Dolores Andreu was the first Hispanic-American woman to serve in the Coast Guard and the first to command a federal shore installation in 1859. Andreu took over as the lighthouse keeper at the St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida after the death of her husband, Juan, the previous lighthouse keeper. She served as the lighthouse keeper until 1862, when the light was extinguished so that it would not help the Union Army during the Civil War.
Condoleezza Rice is an American diplomat, political scientist, and the first African-American to serve as the secretary of state.
In 1933, Frances Perkins was appointed secretary of labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, making her the first nation’s female cabinet member. She held the position for 12 years, longer than anyone before her. After serving as secretary of labor, Perkins served on the U.S. Civil Service Commission under President Truman until 1952. After leaving government service, she spent the rest of her life teaching and lecturing. She died in 1965.
Madeleine K. Albright was nominated as secretary of state by President Bill Clinton and was sworn in on January 23, 1997, becoming the first female secretary of state and the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. Albright had previously served as a representative to the United Nations and as a member of Clinton's cabinet and the National Security Council.
On Aug. 13, 1918, Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. More than 300 women enlist in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve that year to perform jobs vacated by male Marines who left to fight in World War I. Female Marines could not be promoted above the rank of sergeant and performed jobs within the United States.
Deborah Sampson was the first American woman to serve in combat when she enlisted at age 21 in the Continental Army under the name Robert Shurtleff during the Revolutionary War. Born in 1760, she kept her gender hidden by tending to her own battle wounds, but she was discovered when she was hospitalized for a fever. In 1783, she was discharged from the Army. She later received a pension when a court found that she had performed a soldier’s duties.
Susan B. Anthony was born in 1820 into a Quaker family who considered women and men equal. Anthony spent her life working for equality and promoted temperance and the abolition of slavery. She is best known as a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. Anthony was a member of the Equal Rights Association and a founder of the National Woman Suffrage Association. In 1872, she was arrested and convicted for voting. She fought for women’s equality until she died in 1906.
Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Old Horn-Purdy grew up on the Crow Agency reservation in Montana learning stories of her ancestors from her family while attending school off the reservation. Her desire to learn was her main reason for joining the Navy. In 1985, she became one of the first women on a deployed ship, and in 1999, she was among the first women on a combatant ship. She was in engineering but couldn’t be called a machinist for three years until the field opened to women.
Nellie Tayloe Ross was the 14th governor of Wyoming -- and the first female governor in the United States -- in 1925. Ross was elected to replace her husband, who died while he was the governor. In 1869, Wyoming had been the first state to grant women the right to vote, and many in Wyoming wanted their state to be the first governed by a woman. In 1933, Ross was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first female director of the U.S. Mint, a position she held until 1953.
In 2011, Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho became the Army’s 43rd surgeon general. She was the first woman and the first nurse appointed as the Army’s top medical officer. In this position, she was the commander of the U.S. Army Medical Command and directed the third-largest healthcare system in the U.S. Before being appointed as surgeon general of the Army, Horoho was the commander of the Army Nurse Corps.
Now in her second term as director general of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan is the most powerful person in global public health and the only one with the authority to declare a worldwide pandemic. In addition to battling viruses, she champions improvements in maternal care. “What matters most to me is people,” she said. “And two specific groups of people in particular. I want us to be judged by the impact we have on the health of the people of Africa and the health of women.”
In 1861, Dorothea Dix volunteered for appointment as Superintendent of Women Nurses. During the Civil War, she recruited and trained more than 6,000 nurses to serve in the war.
During the outbreak of the Civil War, Clara Barton learned that most of the suffering on the front lines was due to a lack of supplies. She single-handedly organized supply depots for medical equipment and care kits and was nicknamed the “angel of the battlefield.” Her ideas and determination created the organization that came to be known as the American Red Cross.
Promoted in 2008, Army Gen. Ann Dunwoody was the first female four-star general officer in the U.S. military.
Dr. Mary Walker was an outspoken advocate for women's rights and the only woman ever awarded the Medal of Honor. Walker was born in upstate New York in 1832, and graduated with a doctorate in medicine from Syracuse Medical College in 1855. During the Civil War, she volunteered for the Union and worked as a nurse and later as the military’s first female surgeon. In the summer of 1864, she was a prisoner of war until she was exchanged for a Confederate soldier.
Bernice (Bunny) Sandler is a women’s rights activist, best known for her groundbreaking work fighting sexual harassment and discrimination on college campuses. Labeled the “Godmother of Title IX,” Sandler both led efforts for the legislation’s enactment and became a national expert on the law’s implementation. Through her long career she has written three books and more than 100 articles, given more than 2,500 presentations and served as a media expert on sex discrimination in education.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Dec. 3, 2015, that the U.S. military would open all combat positions to women -- opening about 220,000 jobs that had previously been closed to females.
All-female Cultural Support Teams, or CSTs, were created in 2010 by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command to integrate female soldiers onto the battlefield alongside Rangers, Green Berets, SEALs, and other special operations teams in Afghanistan. Their unique composition enabled them to form relationships with other women and children in the area -- things exclusively male units were not capable of in the conservative country.
In 1974, the people of Connecticut elected Ella Tambussi Grasso as their governor. She chose to run for the position after a long career in public service and won the election based on her life-long dedication to effective government and the democratic process.
In March 1999, following several deployments and service in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Navy Adm. Michelle Howard became the first African-American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy when she took command of the USS Rushmore. Howard became the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations in July 2014.
Dr. Nancy Grace Roman is one of the greatest American astronomers of this century. She set an example for women everywhere when she broke into a career field that was largely dominated by men at the time. Often called the “Mother of the Hubble,” Roman was instrumental in developing innovative concepts in the ongoing expansion of the space program.
Sandra Day O’Connor was only 22 years old when she graduated at the top of her class at Stanford Law School, but she was only offered positions as a legal secretary. After working abroad for several years and starting a family, she becamean assistant to the Arizona Attorney General and later was appointed to replace a state senator. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed O’Connor to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, making her the first female justice in the Court’s 191-year history.
Betty Mae Tiger Jumper is known among Native American women as the first of her tribe to graduate from high school, read and write English, and learn modern medicine as a nurse. Jumper was later elected to be Chief of the Seminole Tribe, thus becoming the first female chief of a federally recognized tribe in America.
Inez Milholland Boissevain devoted her life to working for the women’s suffrage movement. Milholland was a lawyer who fought for the rights of working class women, spoke out for racial equality and worked for prison reform. In 1913, she helped plan the Woman Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C., and she famously led the parade wearing a cape and crown atop a white horse.
Vice Adm. Sandra L. Stosz is the Coast Guard’s deputy commandant for mission support and handles a diverse set of responsibilities to support a 17,000-person organization. Since her appointment in June 2016, she has been responsible for any and all facets of support relating to the Coast Guard’s mission.
Having lost her parents at a young age, Eleanor Roosevelt was able to understand social conditions better than most of her predecessors when she and Franklin D. Roosevelt moved into the White House in 1933. She was known to greet everyone with grace and friendliness and frequently organized her own press conferences, lectures and radio broadcasts. After the death of FDR, she continued her career and became the American spokesperson in the United Nations.
Army Surgeon General Discusses Role Models, Women in Military
Vice Chairman Speaks at Officer Women Leadership Symposium