There is a compelling argument to be made that American women have been fighting battles and waging wars against gender-bias and socio-sexual mores since our country’s inception.
From the struggles for equality by “suffragettes” Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the early 20th century to Gloria Steinem and the birth of the modern feminist movement, women have been fighting for freedom as fervently and legitimately as many enlisted soldiers.
But as an unfortunate by-product of the groundbreaking successes of American feminism, history often overlooks those women who have served in uniform. The following is a list of some of the most famous women veterans in our history. We here at Low VA Rates want to thank these women for their courage and service.
- Yeoman Lorretta Walsh – In early March, 1917 Loretta Walsh became the first woman in the history of the United States to enlist in the armed forces and the first female petty officer of the Navy in 1917. Apparently, the events leading up to World War I were what inspired her to enlist. She served four years in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was one of the first female Naval officers to receive equal pay, benefits, and responsibilities to those of her male counterparts. A true revolutionary!
- Dr. Mary E. Walker – Dr. Mary E. Walker was the first and only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in U.S. history. She was awarded it for her miraculous diligence as a medic during the United States Civil War. However, after her involvement in the suffragette movement became known, she was stripped of her medal and asked for it back. True to character, however, Dr. Walker wore the medal proudly until her death, and the validity of the award was posthumously reinstated by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.
- Lt. Kara Hultgreen – Lieutenant Kara Hultgreen was the Navy’s first fully qualified female carrier-based fighter pilot. She was a Distinguished Naval Graduate of the Aviation Officer Candidate School, and earned the call-sign “Hulk” for her amazing strength. Hultgreen tragically died in a training accident in 1994 when her F-14 Tomcat crashed into the Pacific, but her exemplary willingness to serve has inspired countless women.
- Elizabeth C. Newcume – Like other trailblazing women throughout history, Elizabeth C. Newcume disguised herself as a man and served in the U.S. military for almost a year during the Mexican-American War. Her sex was discovered ten months later and she was discharged as a result. However, Newcume would later win back the service benefits promised her in her military contract, including land grants and back/hazard pay equal to that of a man’s..
- Margaret Corbin – Margaret Corbin was never officially enlisted in the armed forces, but that didn’t stop her from fighting for her independence during the Revolutionary War. She joined her husband and 600 other men in defending Fort Washington in 1776, taking over for him after he was wounded and unable to return to his post. Her ability to clean, load, and fire the cannons was like unto an enlisted officer. However, she sustained injuries in the battle left her permanently disabled. In 1779, the United States Congress awarded Corbin with some disability benefits, making her the first woman in America to receive any, including one-half soldiers pay and enlistment in the Corps of Invalids.
- Master Sergeant Barbara J Dulinsky – Master Dulinsky was a volunteer enlistee during the Vietnam War. In 1967, she became the first female Marine to serve in an active combat zone after reporting to the Military Assistance Command in Saigon.
- Clara Maass – Clara Maass was a contracted nurse for the United States Army whose service during the Spanish-American War was highly distinguished. She selflessly volunteered to undergo experimental treatment for a yellow fever outbreak after her retirement, which ultimately claimed her life but lead to the safety of many more lives. To honor her sacrifice, it was decided she would be the first woman ever immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp.
- Sgt. Esther Blake – Sgt. Esther Blake became the first woman to enlist in the United States Air Force within the first minute of the first hour women were granted the ability to do so in 1948. The USAF had been authorized as an official branch of the military just nine months earlier, making Blake not just the first woman but one of the first individuals ever to join the Air Force. She went on to serve 50 combat missions in the air, and has left an extraordinary legacy behind her of women serving.
- Annie G. Fox – Annie G. Fox was a member of the Army Nurse Corps who braved and survived the devastating attacks on Pearl Harbor. She was the first woman ever to be awarded the Purple Heart for her extreme valor, though at that time, the award qualifications did not require the recipient to have been wounded in battle. When the qualifications changed in 1932, Fox’s Purple Heart was replaced with a Bronze Star, since she was not actually wounded during the Pearl Harbor attack.
- PFC Maureen Daugherty – In April 1986 Daugherty became the first American woman to make a dangerous parachute drop into Bolivia. Just making the short list to be part of the Army Paratroopers was distinction enough, a tradition dating back to those who served in WWII at Normandy, France, featured in the critically acclaimed HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers’.
Thanking Our Female Veterans!
We at Low VA Rates are endlessly thankful for the women whose lives pioneered greater freedom and opportunity for generations of women to come. And we stand by and support the women we know and love today in their continued fight for equal rights, particularly those serving in the armed forces. Thank you for sacrificing your friends, family, careers, and lives to protect us. You inspire us every day to do more to serve veterans in our community and around the country. To learn more about what we do at Low VA Rates to give back to veterans, visit our website or give us a call today at 866-569-8272.