As part of Women’s History Month, I will be posting several stories about women in the military from many angles. This first video gives a good overview of women’s active service in the United States Army beginning in the 20th century. It is a well-done and informative piece, but it’s only part of the story.
On very rare occasions prior to the 20th century, women did fight alongside men in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, but it was often disguised as men. That was the only way it was possible. And when they were found out, they were dismissed. There are some stories of women as successful spies in those earlier wars, but the official admittance of women into the military ranks did not happen until WWII.
In the beginning, the women who were able to enter the active-duty services did so to serve in the medical corps as nurses. As you will see in this video, the first women to achieve the rank of general in the U.S. Army were in the medical corps.
The video will give you a clear sense of how the slow opening up of other positions in the military has gained much more speed in recent years. Still, the women who served as nurses in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the present have played incredibly significant roles in saving the lives of countless wounded warriors. Those of us who received the care of those nurses when we were wounded or sick remember that care and skill with real respect and sincere thanks.
But women have expressed a desire to be able to serve and to make the same sacrifices that their male counterparts have made in all of our wars. Their patriotism and will to defend the country has always been there, but it has only been very recently that women have actually begun to serve in positions that place them in combat.
Almost all specialties are now open to women. In recent years, U.S. Army women have been commanding combat units in the field, in artillery, in helicopters, etc. The same is becoming true in the Marine Corps. Women are commanding warships in the U.S. Navy. Women in the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard are flying every type of aircraft the U.S. military has, from the latest fighter jets to tankers to helicopters, and are commanding air wing units in those services. And they are reaching the highest ranks in each of the services.
You will also see over the course of this month that women have proven their skill and courage on the battlefield more and more often in recent years. They are being awarded Silver and Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts for their actions in combat both in the field and in the air.
Enjoy this brief history of women in the U.S. Army. And look for more stories to come.