Women In The Military
The Revolutionary War
Women have been serving in the military since the Revolutionary War. Although they were not allowed to be soldiers, many fought for their country by pretending they were men. Interesting women to research from this period are:
Deborah Samson (Sampson)
Nancy Morgan Hart
Molly Pitcher (Mary Hays McCauly / McCauley)
Nancy Morgan Hart by Louis S. Glanzman
The Civil War
It is estimated that over 400 women served as soldiers on both sides during the Civil War and over 80 were wounded or killed. Thousands served as nurses. Interesting women to research from this period are:
Doctor Mary Walker
Sarah Emma Edmonds
Sara Emma Edmonds Cathay Williams
War Of 1812
Research Lucy Brewer
The Spanish American War
During the period from 1898 to 1902 over 1,500 women served on hospital ships. Interesting women from this period are:
Ellen May Tower
World War I
During World War I over 30,000 women served. During that time the Army and Navy Nurse Corps was established. Over 13,000 enlisted in the Navy and Marine Corps. An interesting woman to research is Helen Fairchild.
World War II
On May 14, 1942 a bill to “Establish a Women`s Army Auxiliary Corp” become law. WAC`s were now part of the Army, not the Auxiliary. Over 5,000 served in the southwest Pacific and 1,619 received medals, citations and commendations. Sixteen women received the Purple Heart and five hundred and sixty five received the Bronze Star. More than 700 WASPS (Women Air Force Service Pilots) received medals and citations. Even though women were wounded, killed and became POWs they were still denied full military status. In 1977 Congress declared WASPs were Veterans of WWII. In 1979 they gained acceptance by the Air Force. General Eisenhower cleared the way for women as part of the military and on June 12 President Truman signed the Women`s Armed Services Act of 1948.
Very little is known about the 120,000 women who were on active duty during the Korean War. These women were part of the WACS (Women`s Army Corp), WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service or Navy Reserve), WAFS (Women`s Air Force) and Women Marines.
There are not many records about the women who served in Vietnam. Many are incomplete and tell very little about the over 7,500 who served bravely in that country, as well as over 265,000 who served throughout the world during the years of the Vietnam War. It is known that:
Over 500 WACs served
Over 600 Air Force women served
Women Marines served
Army, Air Force, and Navy nurses and medical specialists served
Many other women served from the Red Cross, Special Services and Civil service
The women who served in Vietnam suffered the same conditions as the men who served. Many received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and other medals of commendation. Finally, on November 11, 1993 the Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated in Washington DC. It is the first memorial, dedicated to women in the military, in our Nations Capitol.
The Vietnam Women's Memorial
Desert Shield / Desert Storm
The Persian Gulf conflict began on August 2, 1990. On January 16, when Desert Storm began, 40,000 women served in the region.
Grenada--Operation Urgent Fury
Over two hundred Army women served. An interesting woman to research is Eileen Collins. She later became the first woman Shuttle Commander for NASA on STS 93 and then commanded the STS114 Discovery crew in 2005.
Panama--Operation Just Cause
Over 800 women served in this conflict in 1989.
From 1992 to 1994 over 1,000 women served.
Over 1200 women served.
Although women have served in all major conflicts they are still not allowed to be part of several service divisions. The Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force all have restrictions for women. The Coast Guard has no restrictions.
There are many books written on women in the military. Some examples are:
“Patriots in Disquise” by Richard Hall
“We Band of Angels” by Elizabeth M. Norman
“She Went to War, The Rhonda Cornum Story” by Peter Copeland
“Women in War” by Frank Moore