Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Military Women: POW, MOH, heroes, nurses, spies and smugglers?

How much do you know about military women?
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 6, 2018

A friend asked me to do a video for an event honoring Women's History Month. I figured it would be easy, since it is one subject that I've been tracking for a very long time. What I didn't count on was the other parts of the stories I did not remember.

The number of female veterans over 2 million according to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Disabled American Veterans has a great report on what these women face when coming home from the same places the males were sent to.

Stunning how if a man and women are sitting together, both wearing a service hat, the male is thanked for his service, while folks just assume she must be wearing her's to support him.

Another stunner is how a woman can talk about having PTSD but people just think about military sexual assaults instead of what causes it most in males.  So here is a bit of history to actually honor females for their service.

Aside from Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the first and only woman recipient of the Medal of Honor, actually twice. Since Congress took the official award from her, but she refused to give it back, and then President Carter officially gave it back to her, Walker's story is even more impressive!

Over and over again, there are more parts to be discovered of the women we think we know about. 

 Women in the Army
A willingness to assume new roles
"During the Civil War, women stepped into many nontraditional roles. Many women supported the war effort as nurses and aides, while others took a more upfront approach and secretly enlisted in the Army or served as spies and smugglers. Women were forced to adapt to the vast social changes affecting the nation, and their ability and willingness to assume these new roles helped shape the United States."
One of the first women to serve, had to be crossdressers.
"Deborah Sampson wore men’s clothes, served as a man, fought like a man and was wounded. After she died, her husband received 'widow’s pension.'"
Yes, you read that right. Her husband collected her pension as a "widow" instead of the other way around.
"Nancy Morgan Hart, did more than that. She dressed in men’s clothing and pretended to be a crazy man. She was a spy for the Patriots against British forces."
Still Margaret Corbin wore a dress as she helped her husband load the cannon. When he was killed in battle, she replaced him and fired the cannon. Congress awarded her pension in 1779 for her service and being a disabled veteran. It also made her the first servicewoman in the Army.

Fast forward to the Civil War and Dr. Mary Edwards Walker
WALKER, DR. MARY E.

Rank and organization: Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian), U. S. Army

Places and dates: Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861; Patent Office Hospital, Washington, D.C., October 1861; Chattanooga, Tenn., following Battle of Chickamauga, September 1863; Prisoner of War, April 10, 1864-August 12, 1864, Richmond, Va.; Battle of Atlanta, September 1864

Entered service at: Louisville, Ky.

Citation: Whereas it appears from official reports that Dr. Mary E. Walker, a graduate of medicine, "has rendered valuable service to the Government, and her efforts have been earnest and untiring in a variety of ways," and that she was assigned to duty and served as an assistant surgeon in charge of female prisoners at Louisville, Ky., upon the recommendation of Major-Generals Sherman and Thomas, and faithfully served as contract surgeon in the service of the United States, and has devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison while acting as contract surgeon; and Whereas by reason of her not being a commissioned officer in the military service, a brevet or honorary rank cannot, under existing laws, be conferred upon her; and Whereas in the opinion of the President an honorable recognition of her services and sufferings should be made: It is ordered, That a testimonial thereof shall be hereby made and given to the said Dr. Mary E. Walker, and that the usual medal of honor for meritorious services be given her. Given under my hand in the city of Washington, D.C., this 11th day of November, A.D. 1865. Andrew Johnson, President (Medal rescinded 1917 along with 910 others, restored by President Carter 10 June 1977.)

Given under my hand in the city of Washington, D.C., this 11th day of November, A.D. 1865.
Yes, you read that right too! She was a POW. 

You can read more of their stories from Women in the Army Oh, no, I didn't forget about the other branches.

History of Women Marines

1953 - Staff Sergeant Barbara Olive Barnwell First female Marine to be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps medal for heroism for saving a fellow Marine from drowning in the Atlantic Ocean in 1952.

1967 - Master Sergeant Barbara Jean Dulinsky first woman Marine to serve in a combat zone in Vietnam. She was assigned to U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam combat operations center in Saigon. 

1973 - Colonel Mary E Bane, first female to become Commanding Officer of Headquarters and Service Battallion, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton.
The Marines,
Margaret A. Brewer became the first female Marine general when she was promoted to brigadier general in 1978 and made the director of public affairs. Fifteen years later, in 1993, 2nd Lt. Sarah Deal became the first female Marine to be accepted into Naval aviation training. Five years later, in 1998, Carol A. Mutter became the first woman in any service branch to achieve three-star status when she was promoted to lieutenant general. Prior to the promotion, Mutter had been in command of the 3rd Force Service Support Group in Okinawa, the first woman to command a Fleet Marine Force unit at the flag level.

For the Navy

Loretta Walsh: First Woman to Enlist in NavyLoretta Perfectus Walsh was the first woman to enlist in the U.S. Navy (March 17, 1917) and the first woman to reach the rank of chief petty officer. This opportunity also made her the first woman to serve in a non-nursing capacity in any branch of the armed forces. 
Answering the call 1862 
In 1862, Sisters of the Holy Cross served aboard USS Red Rover, the Navy’s first hospital ship, joining a crew of 12 officers, 35 enlisted, and others supporting medical care. Red Rover remained the only hospital ship in the Navy until the Spanish-American War. 

Over 11,000 Navy nurses served at naval shore commands, on hospital ships, at field hospitals, in airplanes, and on 12 hospital ships. Lieutenant Ann Bernatitus, Navy Nurse Corps, escapes from the Philippines just before the Japanese invaded; she later becomes the first recipient of the Legion of Merit award. Eleven Navy Nurses were prisoners of war in the Philippines from 1941 to 1945; they received the Bronze Star for their heroism.  
And you can read more here

Women Trailblazers

Ships Named in Honor of Women


Air Force
In 1948, President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which allowed women to enlist directly in the military. That same year, the U.S. Air Force let the first female members into its ranks. The first recruit to the Women in the Air Force (known as WAF) was Esther Blake, who enlisted on the first day it was possible for women to do so—65 years ago today. The first commissioner of the WAF was Geraldine Pratt May, who was the first Air Force woman to become a colonel.
Today, the top-ranking woman in the Air Force is Lieutenant General Janet Wolfenbarger, the first female four-star general in Air Force history. According to the Air Force, women make up just 9.1 percent of the general officer ranks. There are only four female lieutenant generals, twelve major generals and eleven brigadier generals.

The American Legion has their first female National Commander, Denise Rohan, and she is an advocate for medical cannabis.

The Disabled American Veterans have their first female National Commander, Retired Army veteran Delphine Metcalf-Foster  and she was the first female to lead a national veterans group.