Women have a long history of service in the military dating back to the Revolutionary War where they supported the troops in unofficial roles. During the Civil War, Dr. Mary Walker provided medical care as a surgeon and become the first woman to receive the Medal of Honor. In World War I, women finally had official roles during the final two years of the war.
Women have come a long way in the military and today can serve in all branches of the military as well as any job they are qualified for. Basic Training is now coed. Here are some military women who will go down in history for the ceilings they broke and the many firsts.
General (ret.) Lori J. Robinson
Air Force General (ret.) Lori J. Robinson was the first woman in U.S. history to lead a combatant command at this level. At the time she served as the commander of the United State Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) she was the highest-ranking woman in U.S. military history. She retired with 37 years of military service.
General (ret.) Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody
General (ret.) Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody was the first woman in achieve the rank of a four-star general in 2008. Prior to that she was the top-ranking female in the Army when she was promoted to lieutenant general. She became the Commanding General of the United States Army Materiel Command. She retired from the Army in 2021.
Lt. General (ret.) Patricia D. Horoho
Lt. General (ret.) Patricia D. Horoho was the first woman and first Nurse Corps officer to serve as the 43rd Surgeon General of the United States Army and she served as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Command.
First Female Rangers
These three women broke barriers by graduating from the United States Army Ranger School. Kristen Marie Griest and Shaye Lynne Haver both Army Officers were the first to graduate in 2015. Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley became the first female enlisted graduate in 2018.
Admiral(ret.) Michelle Howard
In 2014, Admiral(ret.) Michelle Howard became the highest-ranking female officer in U.S. Navy history when she was promoted the first female four-star admiral. She served as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, the second highest position in the Navy.
Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-ILL
Iraq War veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-ILL, lost both legs when the Black Hawk helicopter she was flying was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2004. She continued serving in the Army National Guard until 2014 when she retired as a lieutenant colonel. She was first elected to Congress in 2012 and is now serving as a Senator.
Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz
Retired colonel and Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz broke many firsts during her time in the Air Force. She was the first female fighter pilot to fly an A-10 Thunderbolt II in combat. She was also the first female to command in combat a fighter squadron. In the court case McSally v. Rumsfeld, she successfully sued the U.S. Department of Defense to change military policy that required U.S. women stationed in Saudi Arabia to wear an abaya, the body-covering gown, when traveling off base. McSally served in Congress from 2015-2019.
Colonel (Ret) Eileen Collins
Colonel (Ret) Eileen Collins became the first female space shuttle commander in 1999. She joined the Air Force in 1999 and became a T-38 flight instructor. During her time at the Air Force Test Pilot School in 1990 she was selected for the astronaut program by NASA.
Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester
March 20, 2005 Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester’s squad was providing support to a supply convoy when it was ambushed by anti-Iraqi fighters. She was instrumental in the counterattack to repel the enemy. Hester’s bravery let to her receiving the Silver Star. She was the first woman to receive it since World War II for exceptional valor.
This is just a small selection to honor the Women who serve in our Armed Forces.