Veteran’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate those who have served and sacrificed for our country. America wouldn’t be what it is today, and wouldn’t be able to continue evolving for the better, without the dedication of those in the military. So, in honor of Veteran’s Day, we’ve rounded up a few outstanding female veterans we think you should know about who have left a lasting legacy for all of us.
Harriet Tubman is celebrated in history for her heroic work leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad in the 1850s, but this American heroine also has ties to the U.S. military. In addition to working as a nurse within the army, Tubman was also instrumental in helping the Union during the Civil War. Working as a spy, she became the first woman in American history to lead a military expedition, which resulted in the freeing of over 700 slaves, without losing a single soldier.
Despite being forced into service during the Civil War due to her status as a captured enslaved person, Cathay Williams’ commitment to her country knew no bounds. After the war, Williams became the first black woman to enlist in the U.S. Army when she officially joined in 1866. She posed as a man and used a male pseudonym, William Cathay. Demonstrating incredible bravery, Williams is the only known female fighter to have been in the elite African-American cavalry regiment known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
Elsie S. Ott
Elise S. Ott was the first woman to receive the U.S. Air Medal. The incredible honor was beyond well-deserved. During World War II, Ott helped demonstrate the huge potential for flight evacuations (still relied on heavily today), by serving as a flight nurse on the first intercontinental air evacuation flight with the U.S. Army Air Corps. Before serving on this mission, Ott had never even been on a plane! Needless to say, the nurse’s skills helped make this evacuation a success.
Capt. Linda Bray became the first woman in history to command American soldiers in battle during Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989, where she led the 988th Military Police Company. During her military career, Bray was a forward-thinking trailblazer and spearheaded a larger national conversation about the positive impact of women in the Army. Bray once told the New York Times: “I joined the Army for the excitement, the challenge, the experience and loyalty to my country.”
Ann E. Dunwoody
In 2008, Ann E. Dunwoody became the first woman to serve as a four-star general in both the Army and the U.S. armed forces. Talk about impressive! Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody served as commander of the Army Materiel Command (one of the largest operations in the army) employing more than 69,000 people across all 50 states and 145 different countries.
These women are only a handful of the thousands who have dedicated their lives to serving the United States of America through the military. Whether or not you're spending the day honoring someone you know who has served, we hope you take a moment to join us in celebrating these heroes and all those who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe and support our country as it continues to strive for inclusion, respect, and liberty for all.