The above image is of the Military Women's Memorial located at the gateway of Arlington National Cemetery and is the nation’s only major national memorial to honor all women who have defended the nation
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Celebrate Women's History Month in March
During the month of March, USAWC would like to feature two of its newly developed educational products that examine various International and National WPS milestones over time; and, reviews the evolution of various concepts throughout history that connect to the U.S National Strategy on WPS.
Link to Book Review
To find a book that upsets the natural order of historical thinking on a topic is extremely rare. Since its original publication in 1832, Carl von Clausewitz's magnum opus On War has probably been the most studied volume on warfare, politics, and strategy in the Western world. Praised and pilloried, this volume has been the subject of debate by both scholars and soldiers and continues to draw controversy even today.
Yet although pundits and soldiers have offered numerous critiques through the lens of their experiences since its publication, there has been less historiography of the author or his work, with the exception of a small group of historians such as Peter Paret and Jon Sumida.
Ettimova Bellinger joins this august group with this groundbreaking look at the role Countess Maria von Brühl, the wife of Carl, played in the publication of this book. Using a treasure trove of previously unknown letters and correspondence donated in 2012 by Marie's descendants to the Prussian State Archives/Cultural Heritage Foundation, Bellinger incorporates the complete surviving correspondence between Carl and Marie contained in this collection and other published personal papers to show how this highly educated and politically aware woman influenced On War.
As Carl began working on On War, Bellinger shows how Marie not only contributed to the content and thought of his work, but after his death, made it her mission to see her husband's intellectual legacy come to fruition. Marie's drive to edit and publish On War was unprecedented for her day and her willingness to see the project through until her own early death in 1836 showed not only her love for her husband, but her strong intellectual and political spirit.
The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) is one of the oldest Department of Defense federal advisory committees. The Committee is composed of civilian women and men appointed by the Secretary of Defense to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment, retention, employment, integration, well-being, and treatment of servicewomen in the Armed Forces. Since 1951, the Committee has submitted over 1,000 recommendations to the Secretary of Defense for consideration. As of 2020, approximately 97 percent have been either fully or partially adopted by the Department. Source: https://dacowits.defense.gov/
National Archives photo
Only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. One of the first women physicians in the country in 1855. At the outbreak of the war in 1861, Dr. Walker was denied a commission as an Army Surgeon because of her gender. She served any way as an unpaid volunteer surgeon at the US Patent Office Hospital in Washington. In 1862, she worked as an unpaid Field Surgeon near the front lines at Fredericksburg and Chattanooga. In Sept 1863, Dr. Walker became the first female US Army surgeon following her commission as a Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian) by the Army of the Cumberland. While serving as an Assistant Surgeon with the 52nd Ohio Infantry, she routinely crossed the lines to treat civilians. She was a prisoner of war and was freed in a prisoner exchange.
Naval History and Heritage Command Archives
The first Chief of the Navy Nurse Corps.
1908 congress had passed legislation for the Navy Nurse Corps and required the applicants to be unmarried and 22 to 44 years of age. Therefore, Lenah, a 36-year-old widow, decided to join. Twenty females made up the first group of Navy Nurses– later known as the “Sacred Twenty”. Just one year later, Higbee was the Chief Nurse at Norfolk Naval Hospital, and in 1911, became the second Superintendent of the Corps– a role she held for eleven years. She was never given a rank and was paid far less than her male colleagues.
Not only did Higbee grow the Nurse Corps from 160 to over 1,300 nurses, she also served on several healthcare committees, preparing the Red Cross for the impacts of WWI. She then led the Nurse Corps through the war and survived the Spanish Flu epidemic. For her accomplishments, she was awarded the Navy Cross in 1920.
Lenah also advocated for healthcare to dependents of military members and formalized the Navy nursing uniforms– bearing the oak leaf and acorn over an anchor
Higbee retired from the Navy in 1922 after fourteen years of service. She essentially shaped the Navy Nurse Corps and had left a significant influence on the Navy. She also became the first woman to have a U.S. Navy warship named after her.
WWI Sept 30, 1918 – Woodrow Wilson’s address to Congress
“We have made partners of the women in this war…Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege?”
National Archives and Records Administration Photo
She is best known for serving as the director of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and as the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
"From 1941 to 1942, she served as the head of the Women’s Interest Section in the War Department Bureau of Public Relations. In this role, she investigated ways in which women could serve their country and laid the groundwork for them to do so by the time that the US entered the war."
"After war was declared in December 1941, the country mobilized its troops. Discussions also began in the government about the possibility of women serving in the military. Congress passed a bill which created the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) in May 1942. Hobby became the first director of the WAAC. In 1943, she obtained the rank of colonel, when the WAAC became integrated into the army, changing its name to the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). She remained the director of the WAC throughout the war. For her dedication and effective supervision of the WAC, Hobby was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding service by the army in January 1945. She was the first woman in the Army to receive this award, which was the highest non-combat award given by the military at that time."
National Air and Space Museum Archive, Smithsonion Institution
"In 1942, pilot Nancy Harkness Love started the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), in which a small number of female pilots transported military planes from factories to Army Air Bases" (NWHM).
Nancy Harkness Love and Betty Gillies later became the first women to pilot and ferry the Boeing B-17 bomber fortress (NWHM).
Source: https://www.womenshistory.org/exhibits/women-airforce-service-pilots-wasps-wwii (NWHM)
US Airforce Photo
US Airforce Photo
"The Women Airforce Service Pilots program formed in 1943 by combining two separate but related civilian pilot programs for women within the Army Air Forces" (NWHM).
Pilot Jacqueline Cochran also gained military approval to start the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) to train classes of female pilots to serve in domestic non-combat missions.
When these two groups- the WFTD and the WAFS- merged to form the WASPs in the summer of 1943, Cochran led the program and Love served as the head of the ferrying division. Although the US military approved the Women Airforce Service Pilots program, the WASPs still officially held civilian status. Eighteen classes of WASPs graduated during the war, a total of 1,074 women. Ferrying military planes was a primary duty of the Women Airforce Service pilots during the war. The pilots transported newly built planes from factories to military air bases all over the country to be used in training and combat (NWHM).
"By the end of 1944, the WASPs had ferried more than 12,000 planes in the US, including basic trainer planes, fighter planes, and bombers" (NWHM). The WASP program disbanded in December 1944, eight months before the end of World War II. It was the only branch of women’s service in WWII to not receive military status during the war and the only branch to be disbanded before the war ended.
The WASPs continued to advocate for official military status. In the 1970s, they pushed legislation into Congress, calling for the full militarization of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. On November 23, 1977, more than 30 years after the WASP program started, President Jimmy Carter signed Public Law 95-202 giving the women who served as civilian Airforce pilots during WWII veteran status. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed a bill to award the WASPs Congressional Gold Medals, one of the highest civilian honors awarded by the United States Congress.
Sources: https://www.army.mil/women/history/pilots.html (Women in the Army)
https://www.womenshistory.org/exhibits/women-airforce-service-pilots-wasps-wwii (National Women's History Museum- NWHM
US Army Photo
American Soldier and 3rd Director of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). As the Director of the WAC at the time it became a part of the US Army, she was the first women to officially join the U.S. Army. She championed the permanent status for women in the military after World War II.
Courtesy of Leigh County Historical Society
On 11 June 1970, Colonel Anna Mae Hays was promoted to the grade of general and became the first woman in the United States Armed Forces to wear the insignia of a brigadier general. Army Chief of Staff General William C. Westmoreland and Secretary of the Army Stanley C. Resor officiated at the ceremony. Army Surgeon General Hal B. Jennings pinned the stars on Hays' uniform. Former ANC Corps Chiefs Colonels Ruby F. Bryant, Inez Haynes, and Mildred I. Clark, attended the ceremony. Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower, members of Congress, DACOWITS officials, civilian and military nursing leaders, and Hays' brother and sister also were present. The new general's remarks following the promotion acknowledged her indebtedness to a host of benefactors. She expressed her view that the stars “reflect the dedicated, selfless, and often heroic efforts of Army nurses throughout the world since 1901 in time of peace and war.”
She quoted Albert Einstein's words as her philosophy of service to her country: “I must remind myself a hundred times each day that what I am I owe to the lives of other men,… and that I must exert myself in order that I may give in the same manner that I receive.”
In the spring of 1971, General Hays was named Army Nurse Corps Officer of the Year and was presented with the Anita Newcomb McGee Award by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Having served 15 months as a general officer, Hays retired after her four-year tenure as Corps Chief on 31 August. Army Chief of Staff General William C. Westmoreland officiated at the ceremony and awarded her the Distinguished Service Medal. A reception was held at the Pentagon in her honor.
General Hays is a leader and a woman of many firsts. During a career that spanned three wars and culminated in her promotion to brigadier general, she was at the forefront of groundbreaking changes in personnel policies and nursing practices that are today taken for granted. Through her efforts, some of the inequities once endured by female service members were abolished. She worked toward laying the groundwork for modern nursing practice. Hays’ accomplishments and passion for nursing have inspired many and serve as the model of a successful Corps career. In the words of Florence Nightingale, “To be a good nurse, one must be an improving woman.” General Anna Mae V. McCabe Hays is certainly all of that and more.
National Library of Medicine
Elders was a Vice Admiral in Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, she was the second women, second person of color, and first African American to serve as Surgeon General of the United States.
"Elders became Surgeon General of the Public Health Service on September 8, 1993, appointed by President Clinton. She was the first African American to serve in the position. As Surgeon General, Elders argued the case for universal health coverage, and was a spokesperson for President Clinton's health care reform effort. She was a strong advocate for comprehensive health education, including sex education, in schools. She was outspoken in her views. Her last day in office was December 31, 1994. She returned to the University of Arkansas Medical Center as professor of pediatrics" (Surgeon General).