The thought of the military always brings to mind images of strong men in camouflage gear with weapons. It rarely reminds us of women who transcended the barriers of gender and played key roles in the success of the military throughout history.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, G.I Junk features three women who are beautiful not only because they are women, but because they showed extraordinary courage and strength as women Veterans.
Sarah Emma Edmonds
Born in December 1841, Sarah Emma Edmonds was one of the few women Veterans who broke the gender stereotype for women serving in the military. She knew that she had a duty to her country - a duty to serve and protect.
Set for an arranged marriage, Sarah Emma Edmonds ran away from home. At a time when women were not allowed in the military, Sarah disguised herself as a man and joined the United States army. She used the name Frank Thompson.
She served in the military during the Civil War. She served as a male nurse and as a spy disguising as a woman. Over the years, she took care of several wounded soldiers and bravely took on dangerous missions. She wrote a book entitled Nurse and Spy in the Union Army which talks all about her adventures and experiences in her military life.
Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody
"If you don’t think you’re the best at what you do then no one else will either." - a quote by Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody who became the first female 4 Star General in the U.S. Military.
Dunwoody came from a family with a strong military background and values. Her father was a career Army officer and retired as a brigadier general. She considers her dad as her own personal hero who had a great influence on her.
She originally wanted to pursue a career in physical education. She joined the Army in 1974 after college with the intention of just completing her two-year commitment.
When she grew fond of her military life, Dunwoody continued to serve in the Army. She jumped out of planes and served as a Parachute Officer. Her first assignment was as supply platoon leader, 226th Maintenance Company. She became the first female battalion commander for 82nd Airborne Division.
On November 14, 2008, Dunwoody was promoted to four-star general and became the first woman to receive this promotion. Prior to this, in over 30 years of her service, she was decorated several times including the Distinguished Service Medal and the Defense Superior Service Medal.
Elsie Smith Ott was born on November 5, 1913 in Smithtown, New York. She completed her studies in Nursing and then worked in different hospitals. In 1941, she joined the Army Nurse Corps.
Her efforts and service were strongly recognized on January 7, 21943 when she was assigned to fly with and attend to ill patients from Karachi, India to Washington. At this time, air evacuation for injured soldiers and training for flight nurses were still being developed. The flight took six and a half days. During this mission, Ott thought of ways to streamline and benefit the process of air evacuation. Her suggestions were a great contribution to today’s aeromedical evacuation process.
Two months after the flight, Second Lieutenant Elsie Ott became the first woman to receive the United States Air Medal. She was awarded this medal because of her heroism and initiative in improving the evacuation of wounded soldiers.
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