Esther McGowin Blake

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Staff Sergeant
Esther McGowin Blake
SSgt Esther Blake
Nickname(s) "First Woman in the Air Force"
Born 1897
Died 1979 (aged 81–82)
Allegiance United States United States
Years of service 1944 - 1954 (10 years)
Rank E5 USAF SSGT.svg Staff Sergeant
Awards See below

Esther McGowin Blake (1897–1979) was the first woman in the United States Air Force. She enlisted on the first minute of the first hour of the first day regular U.S. Air Force duty was authorized for women on 8 July 1948.[1]

Military career[edit]

Blake's active military career began in 1944 when she, a widow, joined her sons in uniform for the United States Army Air Forces. She closed her desk as a civilian employee at Miami Air Depot and joined the Women's Army Corps when she was notified her oldest son, a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot, had been shot down over Belgium and was reported missing.

Her younger son was quoted as saying that her reason for joining was the hope of helping free a soldier from clerical work to fight, thus speeding the end of the war. During the months and years that followed, Blake saw both of her sons return home from combat with only minor wounds and many decorations.

She remained active with the Air Force until 1954 when she separated due to disability. After separation, she worked as a civil service employee at the Veterans Regional Headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama until her death in 1979.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Women of the U.S. Air Force: Aiming High By Heather E. Schwartz, p.14
  • Air Force Pamphlet 36-2241, Volume 1.
  • "SSgt Esther M. Blake". Air Force Enlisted Heritage Research Institute (AFEHRI), United States Air Force. Retrieved 25 June 2012.