As part of our continuing coverage of Military Appreciation Month we take a look at women and the role they played in the U.S. military. There are so many stories of women demonstrating bravery and sacrifice while serving. While we can't cover all of them, we decided to highlight five who have achieved greatness while serving in our armed forces.
1) Dr. Mary Edwards Walker
Mary was born on November 26, 1832, in Oswego, NY. Her father was a doctor and believed strongly in education and equality for his daughters. In June 1855 Mary graduated from Syracuse Medical College; she was the only woman in her class. When the Civil War started she tried to join the Union Army but was denied. Despite the rejection Mary volunteered as an assistant surgeon for the Army. She worked mostly at the U.S. Patent Office Hospital in Washington, DC. Later she worked as a field surgeon near the Union front lines. She was known to cross enemy lines to treat civilians. Eventually Dr. Walker was taken prisoner by the Confederates. She was held for four months then released back to the 52nd
Ohio Infantry. Mary served the rest of the war at female prison and an orphans asylum. On November 11, 1865, President Johnson signed a bill to present Dr. Mary Edwards Walker with the Congressional Medal of Honor. She was the only woman ever to receive the medal. She lost the award when the stipulation was passed that said the receipiant had to have “actual combat with an enemy”. An Army board eventally reinstated the medal posthumously in 1977.
2) First Lieutenant Annie G. Fox
Annie was born on August 4, 1983. She joined the Army Nurses Corp and became the chief nurse at Hickam Field, Oahu, Hawaii.
On October 26, 1942, First Lieutenant Annie G. Fox was awarded a Purple Heart for her performance during the Attack on Pearl Harbor. The citation read, "Lieutenant Fox, in an exemplary manner, performed her duties as head Nurse of the Station Hospital. . . in addition she administered anesthesia to patients during the heaviest part of the bombardment, assisted in dressing the wounded, taught civilian volunteer nurses to make dressings, and worked ceaselessly with coolness and efficiency, and her fine example of calmness, courage and leadership was of great benefit to the morale of all with whom she came in contact...” Later the requirements for the Purple Heart changed and receipiants had to have sustained an injury during service. While First Lieutenant Fox was forced to give up her Purple Heart, she was awarded the Bronze Star instead.
3) Genevieve and Lucille Baker
During WWI the nineteen-year-old twins from Brooklyn, NY, enlisted in the Naval Coast Defense Reserve. Due to their bookkeeping skills they were the U.S. Coast Guard’s first Yeoman (F) recruits. The military leveraged the civilian skills of women during the war to help with clerical work that needed to be done.
4) Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby
Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby was born in Killeen, Texas and attended Mary Hardin Baylor College for Women as well as the University of Texas at Austin. She married William Hobby who was a former govenor of Texas as well as the publisher of the Houston Post. She became an editor at the paper and often focused on the War Department’s Women’s Interest section. During WWII she decided to join the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). She was appointed the first director of the WAAC in May 1942. Oveta became a colonel and was soon awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the first woman to ever receive the medal.
5) Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Deal Burrow
Sarah Deal Burrow graduated from Kent State University with a pilot's license and a degree in aerospace flight technology. She was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in May 1992. When U.S. military policy changed to allow women to fly combat aircraft in 1993, Deal requested to become an aviator. LtCol Sarah Deal Burrow became the first female Marine selected for Naval aviation training, and subsequently the Marine Corps' first female aviator in 1993. She trained at Naval Air Station Pensacola and earned her wings on April 21, 1995. Lieutenant Colonel Burrow piloted a CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopter that same year. She completed her Active Duty in 2004 and is currently part of the Marine Corp Reserve.