MARCH 1, 2016, WASHINGTON (NNS) – The Navy joins the nation in celebrating Women’s History Month throughout March.
This year, Navy commands are encouraged to celebrate and reflect on the theme “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” Through service and leadership, women have been an integral part of both the Navy’s history and its future.
“Women throughout our history have endeavored to serve the flag, not looking for special treatment, prestigious awards or financial wealth, but merely for the opportunity to serve the flag itself and the great nation it represents,” said Adm. Michelle Howard, vice chief of naval operations.
Today, women comprise 18 percent of the Navy and are indispensable to the national security mission. There are more than 59,000 active duty women serving in the Navy and more than 9,000 female Reservists. Thousands of women have served alongside men in Iraq, Afghanistan and at sea, and their record of performance has been nothing less than outstanding.
Over the last decade, more than 280,000 women have deployed in support of our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women have shown great courage and sacrifice–we simply could not accomplish the mission without them. The diversity of experiences women have had demonstrates both the challenges and the opportunities women have faced.
In March 1917, YNC Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first female chief petty officer in the United States Navy. In December 1959, Anna Der-Vartanian was promoted to the rank of master chief yeoman, making her the first female master chief in the Navy, as well as the first female E-9 in the entire Armed Services. Fleet Master Chief Jacqueline DiRosa became the first fleet master chief 47 years later.
Over 2,600 Navy women participated in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991. Navy women served on hospital ships, supply ships, fleet oilers, ammunition ships, repair ships and tenders. Female pilots flew helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft.
Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, then a rear admiral, was the first woman in the Navy to take command of a Carrier Strike Group–George H.W. Bush–and in 2015 she became the first woman to command a Fleet–3rd Fleet.
In 2012, three female officers became the first to receive their submarine “dolphins.”
In 2014, Howard became the Navy’s first female 4-star admiral and vice chief of naval operations.
In January 2016, the armed services opened all military specialties to women, including all combat and Special Forces units.