Since the beginning of civilization, women have fought side by side with men, courageously and valiantly. It was only in relatively modern eras that women were classified as frail, dainty creatures unable to defend themselves, let alone their homes and country.
In American history, every major conflict has had a few notable women who joined the battle alongside their male counterparts. A woman’s typical role in most military camps was to cook, clean and provide simple medical care to the sick or wounded soldiers.
Beginning in World War I American women were given opportunities to serve in the military for the first time. The Navy and Marine Corps began allowing women to enlist. More than 33,000 women responded, serving as nurses, clerks and support staff in the military. More than 400 nurses would die in the Great War in the line of duty.
During World War II, more than 350,000 women served at home and abroad in the military as mechanics, ambulance drivers, pilots, administrators, and in other non-combat roles. Between the Army and the Navy more than 74,000 women served as nurses in hazardous conditions, with almost 100 becoming Japanese prisoners of war in the Philippines.
In 1942 the Army created the Woman’s Army Corps, (WAC), which allowed more than 150,000 women to serve in England, France, Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. The Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and the Marine Corps would follow suite shortly after with the WAVES, SPARS, and Marine Corps Reserves.
In 1943 the Air Force created the Women Air Force Service Pilots. (WASP) These courageous women flew combat ready aircraft, fighters and bombers, for test flights, assisting in pilot training, and moving aircraft across the US to prepare them to be deployed overseas.
The Korean War had over 50,000 women serve at home and abroad with over 500 nurses in combat zones and on Navy hospital ships. From 1962 to 1972, during the Vietnam war, over 7000 women, all volunteers, served primarily as nurses, in all five branches of the military.
Congress established an all-volunteer military in 1973 which opened up many more opportunities for women to serve. Women were admitted to the service academies for the first time in 1976 and began being assigned to serve onboard alongside men on non-combat ships in 1978.
More than 41,000 women military members were deployed to combat zones during the Persian Gulf War. During the next decade women were authorized to fly combat missions, serve on combat ships and ceilings were shattered in 1998 when women fighter pilots launched off aircraft carriers to fly combat missions.
In 2015 the Pentagon opened up all combat jobs, including infantry, artillery and armored (tank) units to women. Even elite units, such as the Rangers, opened their training schools to women, with the first two women completing the grueling course and graduating in August of 2015.
Today over 200,000 women are serving actively in support and combat roles in all branches of the US military.
Nichole Coleman is a USAF veteran who served in Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Germany and stateside from 1991-1998. She is a full-time Veteran's advocate. She was inspired to begin this Ohio site based on Oregon's "I Am Not Invisible" women veterans website.
Anni Kramer is the founder and president of City Apparel, a woman owned business, based in Findlay, Ohio. Her company is our first major sponsor of Women Warriors of Ohio, providing financial and technology support to this website .
Dave is a veteran and a documentary photographer who has dedicated many years collecting peoples stories in Findlay, Ohio. Humans of Findlay (FB) He also interviews Vietnam Veterans, sharing their personal stories on VietnamVetsHancockCounty.org
Dave will be collecting the written and verbal stories of our courageous women veterans.