Red star flag

Highlights of Women in Military History

  • American Revolution

    April 19, 1775-Sept 3, 1783 Women serve on the battlefield as nurses, water bearers, cooks, laundresses and saboteurs.
  • Mexican War

    April 25, 1846-Feb. 2, 1848 Elizabeth Newcom enlists as Bill Newcom. She marches 600 miles from Missouri to winter camp at Pueblo, Colorado, before she is discovered to be a woman and discharged.
  • Civil War

    April 12, 1861-April 9, 1865 Women soldiers on both sides disguise themselves as men in order to serve. It's estimated 250 women serve in the Confederate army disguised as men. In 1866, Dr. Mary Walker receives the Medal of Honor. She is the only woman to receive the nation's highest military honor.
  • Navy Nurse Corps Established

  • World War I

    June 28, 1914-Nov. 11, 1918 35,000 women serve in WWI including: 21,480 Army nurses serve in military hospitals in the United States and overseas. Eighteen African-American Army nurses serve stateside caring for German POWs and African-American soldiers.
  • World War II

    Sept. 1, 1939-Sept. 2, 1945 350,000-400,000 women serve in WWII including:
    100,000 WACS
    60,000 Army nurses
    80,000 WAVES
  • First Black Women Become WAVES

    Harriet Ida Pikens and Frances Wills were the first black women sworn into the newly desegregated WAVES.
  • First Woman Awarded the Silver Star

    Mary Roberts Wilson, a nurse serving in WWII in Anzio, Italy was awared the Silver Star for grace under fire.
  • Military Segregation Ordered to End

    In February 1948, President Harry S. Truman directed the U.S. armed forces to desegregate as quickly as possible.
  • Air Force Nurse Corps Established

  • First Black Women Enlist in Marine Corps

    Annie Neal Graham-1st black female to enlist in the United States Marine Corps.
  • Korean War

    June 25, 1950-June 27, 1953 1,000 women serve in theatre including 500 Army nurses
  • Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services is Created

  • First Woman Marine Promoted to Sergeant Major

    Bertha Peters Billeb is the first woman Marine promoted to Sergeant Major.
  • Vietnam War

    Aug. 2, 1964-April 30, 1975 7,400 women serve in Southeast Asia, the majority of them nurses. Eight women are killed.
  • First Women Promoted to Brigadier General

    Elizabeth Hoisington and Anna Mae Hays are the first women promoted to Brigadier General.
  • First Woman Major General

  • First Black Woman Brigadier General

  • First Women Graduate from Service Academies

  • Invasion of Grenada

    170 women were deployed
  • Panama Invasion

    770 women deployed
  • War in the Persian Gulf-Operation Deserrt Storm

    Aug. 2, 1990-April 7, 1991 41,000 women are deployed during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Two Army women are taken prisoner by the Iraqis.
  • VA Institutes Programs for Military Sexual Trauma

    Programs to screen and address Military Sexual Trauma (MST) are implemented.
  • Women Can Deploy on Combat Ships

    Congress repeals the law banning women from duty on combat ships. Women deploy with the USS Fox.
  • First Woman Pilot to Fly in Combat

    Martha McSally is the first woman fighter pilot to fly in combat, and first to command a fighter squadron in combat in United States history.
  • First Woman Pilots Space Shuttle

  • VA Appoints Full-Time Director for the Women Veterans Health Program

    Women veterans' health becomes a priority at the VA.
  • Women's War Memorial Dedicated

    Women's War Memorial Dedicated
    The Women in Military Service for America Memorial is located at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
  • Terror Attacks on America

    Military Operations Post 9/11: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)-Afghanistan
    Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)-Iraq
    Operation New Dawn (OND)-Iraq More women than ever are deployed during these military actions. Over the next 11 years women are deployed in more combat areas than at anytime in military history.
  • First Woman Four-Star General

    Ann E. Dunwoody becomes the first female four-star general in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • First Black Woman Promoted to Major General

    Marcia M. Anderson is the first female African-American officer to obtain the rank of major general.
  • Number of Women Deployed Post 9/11

    A total of 405,669 women serve in active duty, reserve and national guard. Women make up 11% (200,000) of the troops fighting in OEF/OIF/OND since 2002. More than during any other American conflict.