According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, as of September 2015, the number of women veterans is 2,035,213. While men veterans are usually noted for their heroics and roles they played in wars, there are a number of famous women veterans that deserve to be acknowledged and honored.
Who are the Famous Women Veterans we should salute?
Sarah Emma Edmonds was a Civil War Veteran
Sarah Emma Edmonds was one of the very few famous women veterans from the Civil War, a time when women were not allowed to serve in the military, Edmonds was born in 1841, and when she was young, she moved from her native Nova Scotia to Detroit, Michigan.
In 1861, Sarah disguised herself as a man and joined the United States Army so that she could do her duty to her country. In the Army Edmonds went under the name Frank Thompson and she was in the Second Volunteers of the United States Army as a male nurse and also a Union spy.
Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody Achieved the Rank of 4 Star General Before Retirement in 2012
One of the most recent famous women veterans is 4 star Army general Ann E. Dunwoody, the very first woman to serve in this capacity. Dunwoody signed up in the Army in 1974, and she was initially assigned to the 226th Maintenance Company (Forward, Direct Support), 100th Supply and Services Battalion (Direct Support), Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
When Dunwoody first became a Soldier, women served in the Women’s Army Corps and “it was not equal,” she said. But much has changed since then.
As a supply team leader, Anne is best known for how she revolutionized the Army Material Command as the commander. The changes implemented by Ann greatly increased the efficiency and effectiveness of the AMC. General Dunwoody retired in 2012.
WWII Veteran Elsie S. Ott was the First Woman to Receive the U.S. Air Medal
Until WWII, wounded personnel were not evacuated and any military medical care was provided on site. Elsie S. Ott was a contributing factor in the advancement of military medical care and one of the famous women veterans that Americans should know.
Elsie was born in New York in 1913, and she completed New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital School of Nursing. In 1941, Elsie signed up for the Army Nurse Corps, and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. Ott was the first woman to receive the U.S. Air Medal for her efforts and service.
In 1865 Cathay Williams Was the First Documented African American Female to Serve
Cathay Williams is one of the famous women veterans of African American ancestry, and she served as a Buffalo Soldier during her military career. Of course, at the time women were not allowed to serve so Cathay simply created an alias by flipping the order of her name to William Cathay and pretended to be a man.
The Buffalo Soldiers had the lowest desertion rate in the army, though their army posts were often in the worst country in the west. Official reports, show these soldiers were frequently subjected to the harshest of discipline, racist officers, poor food, equipment and shelter.
After serving her country for three years Cathay was discharged in 1868 in September, because she revealed the fact that she was really a woman to the post surgeon.
Air Force Colonel Eileen Collins was the First Female Space Shuttle Commander
In 1999 Air Force Colonel Eileen Collins became the first female space shuttle commander and one of the famous women veterans who have made incredible contributions to America. In 1979, Collins joined the Air Force and she was assigned to be a T-38 flight instructor until the year 1982.
In 1990 Collins graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School, and during her program at the school Eileen was selected for the astronaut program by NASA.
Deborah Samson Served During the Revolutionary War
Deborah Sampson was one of the first famous women veterans, serving disguised as a man during the Revolutionary War because women were not allowed to enlist and serve. Samson’s enlistment started in 1778 and she used the alias Robert Shirtliffe.
Deborah/Robert served without question until 1781 when she developed an illness caused brain fever and her deception was detected by the physician who was treating her. Instead of disclosing Samson’s secret the physician kept quiet. Eventually Deborah was instructed to take a letter to General Washington, who gave her a private discharge and some money so she could return home.
Times have certainly changed since the days when women were not even allowed to join the military. These famous women veterans gave it their all to serve in the United States military. For more articles about women veterans click here.
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