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Women in uniform
Take a look back at the many women who bravely dedicated themselves to America’s defense.
Women have long contributed to the American military service, but their efforts have often been overlooked. In honor of Memorial Day, the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation compiled photos that highlight those who bravely dedicated themselves to America’s defense.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Audrey Griffith points to an area of interest while standing guard with Spc. Heidi Gerke during a force protection exercise at Forward Operating Base Hadrian in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan on March 18, 2013. Both women are members of the 92nd Engineer Battalion.
U.S. Navy Seaman Megan Duell monitors a surface contact as the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) approaches the Bosporus strait to depart the Black Sea on April 24, 2014.
The Donald Cook was on a scheduled patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach program. U.S. Navy guided missile destroyers took part in the European Phased Adaptive Approach program, operating in the Black Sea on a mission to train with partner nation navies and promote peace and stability in the region.
Sonar Technician 3rd Class Jennifer Gonzales hauls in excess line during a replenishment-at-sea aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).
Mobile Bay is deployed with the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Seaman Sara Cook from Coast Guard Station Portsmouth participates in cold water survivor training at the station's pier on Oct. 26, 2012.
Cold water survival swim training is used to instruct the crew in proper survival techniques such as the Heat Escape Lessening Posture or the Group Conservation Posture.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Codie Williams, a ceremonial bugler with the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, stands on the Marine Corps War Memorial during a memorial ceremony for retired Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Carl E. Mundy Jr. in Arlington, Va. on April 12, 2014.
U.S. Marine Corps recruit Kimberlyn Adams, Platoon 4010, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, climbs a rope on a Confidence Course obstacle at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., March 19, 2014. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)
U.S Air Force Col. Jeannie Leavitt, 4th Fighter Wing commander, signals her crew chief before taking flight at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., July 17, 2013. After being stood down for more than three months, the 336th Fighter Squadron was finally given the green light to resume flying hours and return to combat mission ready status. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley/Released)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Autumn Hedrick-Cox, a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft boom operator with the 384th Air Refueling Squadron, computes the weight and balance of the aircraft before a refueling mission at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., July 23, 2013. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jess Lockoski, U.S. Air Force/Released)
U.S. Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester stands at attention before receiving the Silver Star during an awards ceremony at Camp Liberty in Iraq, on June 16, 2005.
Hester, a vehicle commander with the 617th Military Police Company of the Kentucky National Guard, is the first female soldier to receive the Silver Star since World War II. Hester won the award for leading her team in a counterattack after roughly 50 insurgents ambushed a supply convoy they were guarding.
Female drill sergeants provide security for the color guard during a graduation ceremony on June 16, 2006.
Basic combat training is nine weeks in length and is divided into three colored phases which are red, white and blue. Soldiers in the red phase are in their first two weeks. The white phase lasts for three weeks and the blue phase completes the trainees' time at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C.
WASP test pilots Mardo Crane and Twila Edwards report for duty in Minter Field, Calif., April 1944.
The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) division was first created to help free male pilots for combat roles and make qualified civilian female pilots go on missions such as ferrying aircraft from factories to military bases. In 1943, more than 25,000 women applied for WASP service, but less than 1,900 were accepted. The 1,078 pilots who earned their wings were stationed at 120 air bases across the U.S.
Thirty-eight WASP fliers died during the war, but because they were not officially in the military, they were sent home at family expense and without traditional military honors.
A U.S. Coast Guard SPAR yeoman second class clerk prepares for duty in June 1944.
SPARS is the Women's Reserve of the Coast Guard that was created by an act of Congress in 1942. The name is based on the Coast Guard motto: “Semper Paratus -- Always Ready.” During World War II, the SPARS recruited about 12,000 women, including 955 officers.
The "Hello Girls" were bilingual female switchboard operators who were sworn into the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Tours, France, during World War I.
The "Hello Girls" arrived in late 1917, when General Pershing's appeal for bilingual telephone-switchboard operators was published in newspapers throughout the United States. It was called an "Emergency Appeal" and specifically requested that women, who held the position of switchboard operators exclusively in the new Bell Telephone Company, be sworn into the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Pershing wanted women to be sworn into the Army as an emergency need, because, he stated, women have the patience and perseverance to do arduous, detailed work.
Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a famous activist for the Women's Suffrage movement, is the only female ever to receive the Medal of Honor -- for her service in the Civil War.
Walker was captured by Confederate forces after crossing enemy lines to treat wounded soldiers. She remained a prisoner of war until there was a prisoner exchange.
At left is "Molly Pitcher: The Heroine of Monmouth." According to tradition, during the American Revolutionary War's battle of Monmouth, June 28th, 1778, the wife of an artillery sergeant carried water in a pitcher to thirsty soldiers. Over time, she came to be called Molly Pitcher for her kind services. It’s also been reported that she manned a cannon after her husband, John Hays, was hit in battle and that George Washington awarded her the title of sergeant for her dedication.