Women in uniform
Take a look back at the many women who bravely dedicated themselves to America’s defense.
Women have long contributed to the American military service, but their efforts have often been overlooked. In honor of Memorial Day, the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation compiled photos that highlight those who bravely dedicated themselves to America’s defense.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Audrey Griffith points to an area of interest while standing guard with Spc. Heidi Gerke during a force protection exercise at Forward Operating Base Hadrian in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan on March 18, 2013. Both women are members of the 92nd Engineer Battalion.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Elvia Palumbo, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter instructor pilot with Company A, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, runs her instruments through their pre-flight checks at Camp Humphreys.
U.S. Navy Seaman Megan Duell monitors a surface contact as the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) approaches the Bosporus strait to depart the Black Sea on April 24, 2014.
The Donald Cook was on a scheduled patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach program. U.S. Navy guided missile destroyers took part in the European Phased Adaptive Approach program, operating in the Black Sea on a mission to train with partner nation navies and promote peace and stability in the region.
Sonar Technician 3rd Class Jennifer Gonzales hauls in excess line during a replenishment-at-sea aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).
Mobile Bay is deployed with the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Seaman Sarahy Diaz pilots a 47-foot motor lifeboat for the first time under the supervision of Boatswain's Mate First Class Ian Washington during a man overboard drill in the waters near Station Coos Bay in Charleston, Ore on Oct. 22, 2012.
Seaman Sara Cook from Coast Guard Station Portsmouth participates in cold water survivor training at the station's pier on Oct. 26, 2012.
Cold water survival swim training is used to instruct the crew in proper survival techniques such as the Heat Escape Lessening Posture or the Group Conservation Posture.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Codie Williams, a ceremonial bugler with the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, stands on the Marine Corps War Memorial during a memorial ceremony for retired Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Carl E. Mundy Jr. in Arlington, Va. on April 12, 2014.
U.S. Marine Corps recruit Kimberlyn Adams, Platoon 4010, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, climbs a rope on a Confidence Course obstacle at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., March 19, 2014. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)
U.S Air Force Col. Jeannie Leavitt, 4th Fighter Wing commander, signals her crew chief before taking flight at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., July 17, 2013. After being stood down for more than three months, the 336th Fighter Squadron was finally given the green light to resume flying hours and return to combat mission ready status. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley/Released)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Autumn Hedrick-Cox, a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft boom operator with the 384th Air Refueling Squadron, computes the weight and balance of the aircraft before a refueling mission at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., July 23, 2013. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jess Lockoski, U.S. Air Force/Released)
Airman Vanessa Dobos is the first female aerial gunner in the U.S. Air Force. Assigned to the 58th Training Squadron in Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., she looks out the crew door of an Air Force helicopter, equipped with a machine gun.
Staff Sgt. Amanda Kokx, U.S. Marine Corps, hands out humanitarian assistance items to a local Afghan woman at the Egyptian Hospital at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, April 2006.
U.S. Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester stands at attention before receiving the Silver Star during an awards ceremony at Camp Liberty in Iraq, on June 16, 2005.
Hester, a vehicle commander with the 617th Military Police Company of the Kentucky National Guard, is the first female soldier to receive the Silver Star since World War II. Hester won the award for leading her team in a counterattack after roughly 50 insurgents ambushed a supply convoy they were guarding.
An all-female crew pauses in the cargo bay of their Lockheed C-130 Hercules for a group photo following a historic flight in 2005. It was the first time an all-female C-130 crew flew a combat mission.
Female drill sergeants provide security for the color guard during a graduation ceremony on June 16, 2006.
Basic combat training is nine weeks in length and is divided into three colored phases which are red, white and blue. Soldiers in the red phase are in their first two weeks. The white phase lasts for three weeks and the blue phase completes the trainees' time at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C.
Airman Jolenea Pederson tightens a tie-down chain aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2005.
The Lincoln Strike Group was operating in the waters off the coast of Indonesia in support of Operation Unified Assistance after the 2004 tsunami.
Cmdr. Linda Nash, Nurse Corps, evaluates an Iraqi patient in the casualty receiving area aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort, 2003.
A crewman looks up the line during refueling onboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, 2003. The Boutwell, homeported in Alameda, Calif., was in the Gulf region in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
U.S. Marine Platoon 4033 practices a close-order drill as their staff sergeant (right, pointing down) monitors their effort on the 4th Battalion Parade Deck at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C., 2000.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Terry Ann Gregory stares off into the distance, 1999.
Army Sgt. Heather Johnsen, the first female assigned to stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, is at attention at Arlington National Cemetery in 1996.
A USAF female security policeman stands guard on a flight line armed with an assault rifle, 1994.
Today, women comprise 11 percent of the active duty force and 13 percent of the Reserve force in the Department of Defense.
Lt. Melanie Knight, a diver with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit, signals as she surfaces following a practice dive at the Naval Air Station in San Diego, Calif., 1993.
A drill instructor replaces a 4th Battalion recruit's cover after attaching the Marine Corps emblem during the emblem ceremony, 1991. The 4th Battalion is the only all female unit in the Marine Corps.
Airman Maudell P. Thompson, Titan missile facilities technician of the 533rd Strategic Missile Squadron, performs her duties at the McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, 1981.
Marine Cpl. Snith performs one of her many tasks as an avionics electronic technician in Cherry Point, N.C.,1979.
Lt. Beverly Kelley, first woman to command a U.S. military vessel, stands aboard the 95-foot U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Newagen in 1979.
A U.S. Army policewoman directs a convoy of armored vehicles, Dec. 1978.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Patricia Mescus, U.S. Navy, repairs an A-4 jet at the Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan, 1976.
Air Force nurse Captain Bettie J. Vierra tends to a Vietnamese child during the Vietnam War, 1970 or 1971.
A Navy nurse tends the sick and wounded on stretchers on the deck of the hospital ship USS Sanctuary, moored in Da Nang Harbor, April 1970. The men had just arrived on board via medical evacuation helicopter.
A combat-wounded soldier gets a helping hand from Air Force nurse 1st Lt. A. Drisdale of the 801st Medical Air Evacuation Squadron during a flight from Korea to Japan in Oct. 1952.
President Harry S. Truman is joined by representatives of the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Women's Army Corps at a ceremony at the White House celebrating the new stamp "Women in Our Armed Services," on Sept. 11, 1952.
An Army nurse bandages the wrist of a wounded soldier in Korea, Feb. 1951.
US Navy WAVES work together at the U.S. Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Ill., during World War II.
Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) were a World War II-era division of the U.S. Navy that consisted entirely of women.
Navy nurse Ensign Jane Kendeigh, USNR, the first Navy flight nurse to reach Iwo Jima, Japan, ministers to serious casualties awaiting evacuation on the air strip, March 1945.
WASP test pilots Mardo Crane and Twila Edwards report for duty in Minter Field, Calif., April 1944.
The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) division was first created to help free male pilots for combat roles and make qualified civilian female pilots go on missions such as ferrying aircraft from factories to military bases. In 1943, more than 25,000 women applied for WASP service, but less than 1,900 were accepted. The 1,078 pilots who earned their wings were stationed at 120 air bases across the U.S.
Thirty-eight WASP fliers died during the war, but because they were not officially in the military, they were sent home at family expense and without traditional military honors.
Army nurses march during basic training in Greensboro, N.C., in 1944.
A U.S. Coast Guard SPAR yeoman second class clerk prepares for duty in June 1944.
SPARS is the Women's Reserve of the Coast Guard that was created by an act of Congress in 1942. The name is based on the Coast Guard motto: “Semper Paratus -- Always Ready.” During World War II, the SPARS recruited about 12,000 women, including 955 officers.
Marine Pvts. Bette Wimmer, Betty West and Reba Fitzgerald learn to disassemble aircraft engines for major overhauling at the Assembly and Repair School, Marine Corps Air Station, in Cherry Point, N.C., 1943.
Pfc. Edith Macias, Marine reservist, stands at attention during a review by Maj. Gen. George Barnett in Washington, D.C., during World War I.
This group photo shows members of the U.S. Public Health Service Cadet Nurse Corps at Sioux Valley Hospital, Sioux Falls, S.D., 1943.
An Army nurse tends to a wounded solider in the crowded Evacuation Hospital No. 114 in Fleury-sur-Aire, France, during World War I.
The "Hello Girls" were bilingual female switchboard operators who were sworn into the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Tours, France, during World War I.
The "Hello Girls" arrived in late 1917, when General Pershing's appeal for bilingual telephone-switchboard operators was published in newspapers throughout the United States. It was called an "Emergency Appeal" and specifically requested that women, who held the position of switchboard operators exclusively in the new Bell Telephone Company, be sworn into the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Pershing wanted women to be sworn into the Army as an emergency need, because, he stated, women have the patience and perseverance to do arduous, detailed work.
"The Sacred Twenty" were the first women to formally serve as members of the Navy, in 1908.
Army contract nurses gather together at the General Hospital in Santiago, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War, 1899.
This photo shows an unidentified women's volunteer unit in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War.
Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a famous activist for the Women's Suffrage movement, is the only female ever to receive the Medal of Honor -- for her service in the Civil War.
Walker was captured by Confederate forces after crossing enemy lines to treat wounded soldiers. She remained a prisoner of war until there was a prisoner exchange.
At left is "Molly Pitcher: The Heroine of Monmouth." According to tradition, during the American Revolutionary War's battle of Monmouth, June 28th, 1778, the wife of an artillery sergeant carried water in a pitcher to thirsty soldiers. Over time, she came to be called Molly Pitcher for her kind services. It’s also been reported that she manned a cannon after her husband, John Hays, was hit in battle and that George Washington awarded her the title of sergeant for her dedication.