Timeline of American women in war and the U.S. military from 1945 to 1999
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For non-U.S. military related information, please see Women in warfare and the military (1945–99)
- 1 Timeline of women in warfare from 1945 until 1999 in the United States Military
- 2 1945-1949
- 3 1950s
- 4 1960s
- 5 1970s
- 6 1980s
- 7 1990s
- 8 See also
- 9 References
Timeline of women in warfare from 1945 until 1999 in the United States Military
- The first five African-American women entered the Women's Reserve of the U. S. Coast Guard Reserve (SPARs): Olivia Hooker, D. Winifred Byrd, Julia Mosley, Yvonne Cumberbatch, and Aileen Cooke.
- SPAR Marjorie Bell Stewart was awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal by CAPT Dorothy Stratton, becoming the first SPAR to receive the award.
- Nellie Jane DeWitt became Superintendent/Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps.
- 25 July The SPARs was inactivated.
- Lotus Mort became the first female warrant officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
- The Army-Navy Nurse Act of 1947 (Public Law 36-80C) makes the Army Nurse Corps and Women's Medical Specialist Corps a permanent Staff Corps of the Regular Army and Navy and gives permanent commissioned officer status to Army and Navy nurses.
- 31 January: Fannie Salter, keeper of the Turkey Point Lighthouse in upper Chesapeake Bay since 1925 and the last female keeper of a lighthouse in the United States at the time, retired from active service. This ended nearly 150 years during which women were employed as keepers of United States' lighthouses.
- June 12, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 625, the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, which allowed women to become permanent, regular members of the U.S. armed forces in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the recently formed Air Force. Prior to this act, women, with the exception of nurses, served in the military only in times of war. However, the act limited service of women by excluding them from Air Force and Navy vessels and aircraft that might engage in combat. On July 7, 1948, Kay Langdon, Wilma Marchal, Edna Young, Frances Devaney, Doris Robertson, and Ruth Flora became the first six enlisted women to be sworn into the regular U.S. Navy. Esther Blake was the first woman to enlist in the regular U.S. Air Force; she enlisted in the first minute of the first hour of the first day regular Air Force duty was authorized for women on July 8, 1948. On October 15, 1948, the first eight women to be commissioned in the regular U.S. Navy, Joy Bright Hancock, Winifred Quick Collins, Ann King, Frances Willoughby, Ellen Ford, Doris Cranmore, Doris Defenderfer, and Betty Rae Tennant took their oaths as naval officers.
- The position Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Women (ACNP(W)) was created from the original WAVES leadership position. This was the first notion of the Office of Women's Policy. The woman officer who held the position was an 0-6 for as long as she filled the billet. No flag rank was allowed per Title 10 USC 6015.
- Colonel Katherine A. Towle became the first Director of Women Marines.
- The authority to reestablish the Women's Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves (SPARs), approved by the President on 4 August 1949, became effective on 1 November 1949.
- The U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps was established.
- The first African-American women enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
- 1950-1953: (Korean War): U.S. servicewomen who had joined the Reserves following World War II are involuntarily recalled to active duty during the war. More than 500 Army nurses serve in the combat zone and many more are assigned to large hospitals in Japan during the war. One Army nurse (Major Genevieve Smith) dies in a plane crash en route to Korea on July 27, 1950, shortly after hostilities begin. Navy nurses serve on hospital ships in the Korean theater of war as well as at Navy hospitals stateside. Eleven Navy nurses die en route to Korea when their plane crashes in the Marshall Islands. Air Force nurses serve stateside, in Japan, and as flight nurses in the Korean theater during the conflict. Three Air Force nurses are killed in plane crashes while on duty. Many other servicewomen are assigned to duty in the theater of operations in Japan and Okinawa.
- Captain Lillian Kinkella Keil, USAF, who had already made 250 evacuation flights (23 of which were transatlantic) during World War II, made 175 evacuation flights during the Korean War. As a result, she became one of the most decorated women in American military history.
- January: The U.S. Coast Guard Women's Volunteer Reserve is opened to all eligible veteran SPAR officers.
- 5 April: the U.S. Coast Guard announced that former enlisted women of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve could apply for enlistment in the Women's Volunteer Reserve, or SPARs. Enlistments would be for a three-year period with written agreement to serve on active duty in time of war or national emergency.
- 8 August: On 8 August 1950, the U.S. Coast Guard announced the start of an intensive campaign throughout the nation to reenlist former U.S. Coast Guardsmen and Reservists, including SPARs, in the new Coast Guard Reserve.
- Ruby Bradley served in the Korean War as Chief Nurse for the 171st Evacuation Hospital. In November 1950, during the Chinese counter-offensive, she refused to leave until she had loaded the sick and wounded onto a plane in Pyongyang while surrounded by 100,000 advancing Chinese soldiers. She was able to jump aboard the plane just as her ambulance exploded from an enemy shell. In 1951, she was named Chief Nurse for the Eighth Army, where she supervised over 500 Army nurses throughout Korea. When she left Korea in June 1953, she was given a full-dress honor guard ceremony, the first woman ever to receive a national or international guard salute.
- Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) is established in the United States to advise on the recruitment of military women for the Korean War.
- President Truman authorized the Services to involuntarily discharge women due to pregnancy or adoption of minor children. Rule also permitted a voluntary discharge to uniformed women for marriage. Rule did not authorize uniformed women any entitlements due to family ("dependents") status, such as non-military spouses.
- Arie Taylor becomes the first black person to be a U.S. Women’s Air Force classroom instructor.
- Helen E. Myers of Lancaster, Pa., a 1941 graduate of Temple University, is commissioned as the U.S. Army Dental Corps’ first woman dental officer in 1951.
- U.S. Navy women were accepted for commission in the U.S. Medical Service Corps.
- Barbara O. Barnwell becomes the first female United States Marine to be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism.
- The first female physician is commissioned as a medical officer in the Regular Army of the U.S.
- U.S. Navy Hospital Corps women are assigned positions aboard Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) ships for the first time.
- Mercedes O. Cubria, a WAC, was promoted to Major and deployed to Japan, where she continued to work in military intelligence. When the Korean War ended in 1953 Cubria was given a medical discharge, and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for "meritorious achievement in ground operations against the enemy".
- 3 January - Irene O. Galloway was sworn in as the fourth director of the Women's Army Corps.
- Clotilde Dent Bowen became the U.S. Army’s first black female physician to attain the rank of colonel.
- MAJ Emma Baird becomes Assistant Chief, Personnel Branch and is reputed to be the first woman staff officer at the U.S. Military Academy.
- Mary Louise Rasmuson became the director of the Women's Army Corps.
- Elizabeth Splaine became the first U.S. Coast Guard SPAR advanced to warrant officer.
- 16 December: Anna Der-Vartanian became the U.S. Navy's first female master chief petty officer; this made her the first female master chief in the Navy, as well as the first female E-9 in the entire U.S. Armed Services. She received a personal letter from then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower congratulating her on her accomplishment.
- First civilian women hired in non-traditional occupations such as engineering in the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Wilma L. Vaught became the first woman to deploy with a Strategic Air Command operational unit.
- Master Gunnery Sergeant Geraldine M. Moran became the first female Marine to be promoted to E-9.
- Grace Peterson became the first female chief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.
- The first female U.S. Marine is promoted to Sergeant Major (Bertha Peters Billeb).
- Lieutenant Charlene I. Suneson became the first line WAVES officer to be ordered to shipboard duty.
- Pearl Faurie became the first SPAR in the U.S. Coast Guard advanced to E-9.
- Captain Ruth Alice Erickson, USN, a witness to the attack on Attack on Pearl Harbor, became Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps.
- Mercedes O. Cubria was recalled to service by the U.S. Army as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis. She worked primarily in the role of de-briefing Cuban refugees, as well as defectors who were fleeing the Cuban communist regime. She also helped the refugees find jobs and places to live. Cubria's work with the refugees proved to be a significant asset to the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency. Cubria was awarded the Legion of Merit and continued to serve for the next eleven years.
- Alice K. Kurashige became the first Japanese-American woman to be commissioned in the United States Marine Corps.
- 1965-1975: Vietnam War: Some 7,000 American military women serve in Southeast Asia, the majority of them nurses. Eight of the women died in the line of duty. Nurses serve aboard the hospital ship USS SANCTUARY. Nine non-nurse U.S. Navy women serve in country; however no enlisted Navy women are authorized. LT Elizabeth G. Wylie becomes the first women to serve in Vietnam on the staff of Commander, Naval Forces, Saigon. Barbara Annette Robbins is the first American woman to die in the Vietnam War; she is a secretary for the CIA, and is the first woman at the CIA killed in the line of duty, as well as the youngest CIA employee ever killed. She dies in a car bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam in 1965, at the age of 21. An Army nurse (1st LT Sharon Ann Lane) is the only US military woman to die from enemy fire in Vietnam. An Air Force flight nurse (Capt Mary Therese Klinker) dies when the C-5A Galaxy transport evacuating Vietnamese orphans she was aboard crashes on takeoff. Six other American military women die in the line of duty - Eleanor Grace Alexander, Pamela Dorothy Donovan, Carol Ann Drazba, Annie Ruth Graham, Elizabeth Ann Jones, and Hedwig Diane Orlowski. Two Army nurses are awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism in Vietnam; one is African-American 1LT Diane Lindsay. She is cited for restraining a Vietnamese soldier patient, who had pulled a pin from a live grenade at the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam. 1LT Lindsay helped convince the soldier to relinquish a second grenade, avoiding additional casualties. CDR Elizabeth Barrett was the highest-ranking female naval line officer to serve in Vietnam and the first woman to hold command in a combat zone.
- CWO3 Rose Franco is the first Hispanic woman to become a Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
- The U.S. Marine Corps assigns its first woman to attaché duty. Later, she is the first female Marine to serve under hostile fire.
- Approximately 75 women enlisted as SK's and YN's in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.
- Army nurse Second Lieutenant Carol Ann Drazba became the first American nurse to die in the Vietnam War; Drazba, 22, and six others died on February 18, 1966, in a helicopter crash in southern Vietnam. There is a statue in her honor in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
- Barbara Dulinsky becomes the first female United States Marine to serve in a combat zone.
- President Johnson signs Public Law 90-130, lifting grade restrictions and strength limitations on women in the United States military. Among other things, Public Law 90-130 amended 10 USC, eliminating the 2% ceiling on enlisted women. It also allowed female officers to be promoted to Colonel and above.
- Dr. Betsy Lewis, the Academy fine arts librarian, becomes the first female faculty member at West Point when she begins teaching art classes in the English Department to First Class cadets.
- Ruth A. Lucas became the first African-American woman to attain the rank of colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
- The first Air Force woman is sworn into the Air National Guard (ANG) with the passage of Public Law 90-130, which allows the ANG to enlist women.
- Lieutenant Colonel Jenny Wren is the first female U.S Marine to attend Command and Staff College.
- 3 January - Barbara J. Bishop becomes the 5th director of the women Marines.
- May - Marcelite J. Harris becomes the first woman maintenance officer in the USAF.
- Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFROTC) opens to women.
- Jeanette I. Sustad became the director of the Women Marines, and remains such until was succeeded by Margaret A. Brewer in 1973.
- Late 1970s: Women first served in “topside” roles at the American missile alert facilities, such as maintenance and security, beginning in the late 1970s.
- Anna Mae Hays, Chief of the Army Nurse Corps, became the first U.S. female brigadier general on June 11, 1970. Minutes later, Elizabeth Hoisington, Director of the Women’s Army Corps, became the second.
- 1st Lt Patricia Murphy was named the first female U.S. Marine certified military judge.
- Mildred Inez Caroon Bailey became the director of the Women's Army Corps.
- The Air Force promoted the director of Air Force women, Jeanne Holm, as its first female brigadier general.
- Jane Leslie Holly, an Auburn University alumni, becomes the first woman to graduate from the AFROTC commissioning source.
- A U.S. Air Force woman completes Aircraft Maintenance Officer's School and becomes the first female aircraft maintenance officer.
- The first woman is assigned as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
- A staff sergeant becomes the first female technician in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
- January: Commander Elizabeth Barrett arrived in Vietnam, and was the highest ranking female naval line officer in Vietnam. By November 1972, she had become the first female commander in a combat zone, leading the 450 enlisted men in the [U.S.] Naval Advisory Group, a position she held until she left Vietnam in March 1973.
- 28 March: A bill was introduced in the U.S. House to authorize the appointment of women to “any military service academy” although this bill failed. Congress eventually lifted restrictions on 7 October 1975 with a rider attached to the Defense Authorization bill that year (Public Law 94-106).
- 10 April: The U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Chester Bender, established an official board “to determine the need for permanent women officers in the regular Coast Guard.” The board concluded in their report submitted in May 1972 that: 1) "No need for regular women officers in specific billets currently exists in the Coast Guard except in cases where a male applicant with adequate qualifications is not available. This requirement in itself does not justify initiation of a program at this time. In fact, a program of such small size is not desirable; 2) Nevertheless, considering all factors, it is in the overall best interest of the Coast Guard to begin a controlled women officer program with provisions for integration into the regular Coast Guard included; 3); Planning and execution of a women officer program in the Coast Guard is overdue.
- August: Wilma L. Vaught became the first female Air Force officer to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
- Hospitalman Elena J. Peckenpaugh was assigned to the first U.S. Navy ship with a mixed male-female crew.
- The first women's Reserve Enlisted Basic Indoctrination classes in the U.S. Coast Guard were established in 1972. Four ratings were made available: Yeoman, Storekeeper, Radioman, and Hospital Corpsman.
- The U.S. Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is opened to Army and Navy women.
- The U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, publishes Z-116 declaring the Navy's commitment to equal rights and opportunities for women.
- Concurrent will All Volunteer Force establishment, the U.S. Department of Defense authorized provisions to permit Services to retain uniformed mothers on a case-by-case basis.
- The Hospital Ship USS Sanctuary is the first U.S. Naval vessel to sail with a male/female crew.
- Alene Duerk became the first female admiral in the U.S. Navy.
- Mildred C. Kelly became the first African-American woman E9 (Sergeant Major) in the U.S. Armed Forces.
- February: The first women since 1945 were admitted to Officer Candidate School in the U.S. Coast Guard.
- 1 November: Enlistment of women in the U.S. Coast Guard authorized for four-year tours of active duty. The ratings to be held by these women were limited to yeoman (YN), storekeeper (SK), hospital corpsman (HM), photo-journalist (PA), dental technician (DT), and musician (MU).
- Legislation ended the Women's Reserve in the U.S. Coast Guard and women were officially integrated into active duty and Coast Guard Reserve. Female reservists then serving on active duty were given the choice of enlisting in the regular Coast Guard or completing their reserve enlistments.
- 1LT Virginia Fry becomes the first full-time female faculty member at West Point when she serves as a geography instructor in the Department of Earth, Space, and Graphic Sciences.
- Combat exclusion for women in the U.S. Coast Guard ends.
- Alice Jefferson became the first SPAR to be sworn into the regular U.S. Coast Guard.
- Lieutenants Victoria Voge and Jane McWilliams became the U.S. Navy’s first two women flight surgeons.
- The first female enlistee was accepted into the regular U.S. Coast Guard on 7 December 1973.
- Gail Harris became the first female Intelligence Officer in a Navy aviation squadron in 1973.
- The first U.S. Navy women earn military pilot wings. LTJG Judith Neuffer had been the first woman selected for flight training in 1973.
- The first woman in the history of the U.S. armed forces is promoted to major general (Mary E. Clarke).
- Women Officer School (WOS), Newport, Rhode Island, was disestablished, and Officer Candidate School (OCS) training was gender integrated to support men and women.
- Pregnancy as a reason for mandatory separation from the U.S. Navy was abolished. Women could now request to remain on active duty if pregnant.
- Janet Sebastian Cox became the first woman to join a Kauai unit of the Hawaii National Guard.
- The U.S. military accepts its first female chaplain (Dianna Pohlman, in the Navy).
- The U.S. Supreme Court rules unconstitutional inequities in benefits for the dependents of military women, in the case Frontiero v. Richardson. Until then, military women with dependents were not authorized housing nor were their dependants eligible for the benefits and privileges afforded the dependents of male military members, such as medical, commissary and post exchange, etc.
- 29 February: U.S. Coast Guard: Radioman (RM), Fire Control Technician (FT), Telephone Technician (TT), and Boatswain's Mate (BM) rating opened and school-qualified proviso dropped, thus sanctioning non-rated women.
- The first group of women ever enlisted as "Regulars" in the U.S. Coast Guard report to Cape May on 15 January.
- Mixed-gender basic training begins in the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Eleanor L'Ecuyer became the first woman on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to Captain since World War II.
- Faye Glenn Abdellah became the first nurse officer in the U.S. to receive the rank of a two-star rear admiral.
- Lieutenant Sally D. Murphy, the first woman to qualify as an aviator in the Army, became the first female U.S. Army aviator and U.S. Army helicopter pilot.
- First women commissioned through NROTC.
- The Navy became the first U.S. service to graduate a female pilot (LT Barbara Allen Rainey.) They graduated six in 1974.
- 1975-1980: Project Athena conducted at West Point. This joint Military Academy-Army Research Institute effort was one of the nation's first systematic studies of the integration of women into an all-male institution.
- May: Kathleen Byerly became the first female officer in the United States Navy to serve as the flag secretary to an admiral commanding an operational staff. She was one of 12 women named persons of the year by Time Magazine in 1975.
- 11 August: A Department of Transportation press release noted that the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, ADM Owen Siler, announced “that women will join the Corps of Cadets at New London. Admiral Siler said his decision to admit women to the Academy was based on the many contributions he expected women to make in the peace-time missions of the Coast Guard. He noted that current statutes do not bar the admission of women to the Coast Guard Academy and that action by Congress will not be required. This decision is also in keeping with the strong commitment of the leadership of the Department of Transportation to assure equal rights for women.” An article in the CGA Alumni Bulletin noted that the Academy “thus becomes the first of the armed forces to open its doors to women.” (Alumni Bulletin (September/October 1975), p. 8.
- November 1975 the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard approved a new uniform for women in the Coast Guard designed by Edith Head, a Hollywood fashion expert.
- U.S. Navy women were assigned to service craft (e.g., tug boats).
- The term Woman Marine is discontinued; all women in the U.S. Marine Corps are considered Marines. Women are allowed in every occupation or billet in the U.S. Marine Corps except Infantry, Artillery, and pilot-aircrew, because of general service restrictions.
- Fifteen sea intensive ratings were closed to women in the U.S. Navy.
- The U.S. Navy begins screening URL women for CDR, CO, and LCDR XO billets ashore.
- The U.S. Air Force places the first woman on operational crew status.
- 1 January: All aviation ratings in the U.S. Coast Guard opened to women. This completed opening to women all ratings in which "their service would not unacceptably impact the sea-isolated/shore duty ratio." 
- February 1976: The U.S. Coast Guard Academy first announced the appointments of 50 cadets to enter with the Class of 1980, including three women: Cathryn Lis of Bristol, CT; Susan Kollmeyer of Groton, CT; & Cynthia Snead of Melbourne, FL. The Coast Guard News Release published on 4 February 1976 regarding their announcement noted that: “Of the four largest federal service academies (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard) the Coast Guard Academy is the first to offer an appointment to a woman.” (USCG News Release No. 7-76; 4 February 1976).
- Debra Chambers Buchanan and Debra Lee Wilson became the first female coxswains in the U.S. Coast Guard.
- The United States Air Force Academy, United States Coast Guard Academy, United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy become coeducational. USAF eliminates the WAF program; with women more fully integrated with men in the service it is considered unnecessary. 119 women became the first women cadets at West Point when they joined the Class of 1980.
- Women are first allowed to train as jet fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Force.
- At the end of 1976, Gail Harris was requested by name to report to Kamiseya, Japan, to the Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Facility and became the first female and first African American female to be designated an Intelligence Watch Specialist in the U.S. Navy, as an Intelligence Watch Officer.
- Mrs. Sue Peterson became the first female instructor in the Department of Physical Education at West Point.
- The U.S. Navy promoted a female line officer, Fran McKee, to flag rank in 1976. RADM McKee thus became the first Navy woman who was not a nurse to achieve star rank, as well as the first female unrestricted line officer appointed to flag rank.
- Women began attending U.S. Navy Aviation Officer Candidate School.
- 2nd Circuit Court decision indicating involuntary pregnancy discharges in the U.S. Navy violated the 5th Amendment.
- The U.S. Air Force selects the first female reservist for the undergraduate pilot training program.
- Military veteran status is granted to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) who flew during World War II.
- The first mixed-gender crews afloat in the U.S. Coast Guard occurred in October, 1977 when 24 women reported on board the CGCs Gallatin and Morgenthau as members of their permanent crew. Twelve women—two officers and 10 enlisted—served on board each.
- Janna Lambine became the first female designated as a U.S. Coast Guard aviator.
- Connie Swaro became the first active-duty female in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to E-7 on 1 August 1977.
- Cheryl Stearns became the first female member of the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army's elite parachute team. She served two 3-year tours with them.
- January: YN2 Ella Bragg became the first woman to reenlist in the regular U.S. Coast Guard since the Service began accepting women as regular enlistees.
- All officer career fields and enlisted ratings in the U.S. Coast Guard opened to women.
- YNC Holly became the first female company commander in the U.S. Coast Guard at TRACEN Cape May. She commanded the first all-female company Gulf-101.
- Marlene DeTienne attended the Law Enforcement School of the U.S. Coast Guard in Yorktown as a BM1. DeTienne was the first female active-duty BM1 in the Coast Guard and the first woman to attend LE school. She was invited to be the Coast Guard's enlisted representative to the 1979 DACOWITS Conference and was the only female (and only BM1) in the Ops Center during the 1980 Mariel Boat Lift. She was the first woman to make BM3 by striking.
- Margaret A. Brewer, Director of Information and former Director of Women Marines, becomes the first woman to reach the rank of general in the United States Marine Corps, as she is promoted to brigadier general.
- The CBS made-for-television movie “Women at West Point” airs.
- MAJ Nancy Freebairn becomes the first female tactical officer at West Point.
- The women's basketball team called the “Sugar Smacks,” the first women's team to gain varsity status at West Point, finishes its initial varsity year with an 18-5 record.
- The first Army woman is promoted to two-star general. She is also the first woman officer to command a major military installation.
- The U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) assigns the first woman aircrew member to alert duty.
- Judge John Sirica rules the law banning U.S. Navy women from ships to be unconstitutional in the case Owens v. Brown. Congress approves a change to Title 10 USC Section 6015 to permit the Navy to assign women to fill sea duty billets on support and noncombatant ships. The USS Vulcan, a repair ship, receives the first of many Navy women to be assigned shipboard under the amended law.
- Surface Warfare and Special Operations communities in the U.S. Navy were opened to women.
- SKCM Margaret I. Gramlich became the first woman assigned to a Command Master Chief ashore billet in the U.S. Navy.
- Navy Nurse Joan C. Bynum became the first black woman promoted to the rank of Captain in the U.S. Navy.
- The Women's Army Corps (WAC) is disestablished and its members integrated into the Regular Army of the U.S.
- Patricia Fornes, as a first lieutenant, was the first woman officer to serve on a combat missile crew at a Titan II facility.
- 1978/1979: Jeanette Roberts Burr became the light-keeper of the New Dungeness Light Station, becoming the first uniformed U.S. Coast Guard woman to become a light-keeper. She was the first woman light-keeper since Fannie Salter (who retired in 1947), a civilian Coast Guard employee.
- 21 June: SN Ina J. Toays became the first woman to be awarded the U.S. Coast Guard Medal.
- Kathy Gerard becomes the first female Brigade Executive Officer at West Point.
- COL Mildred Hedberg becomes Chief of Staff, USCC, at West Point.
- The women's swimming team at West Point finishes its first varsity season undefeated and captures the New York State AIAW Division B Swimming Varsity Championship.
- Beverly Kelley became the first female commanding officer afloat in the U.S. Coast Guard when she took command of the CGC Cape Newagen.
- LT Kay Hartzell became the first female commanding officer of an isolated duty station in the U.S. Coast Guard when she took command of LORAN Station Lampedusa, Italy.
- Sandra Ward West graduated from C-130 Flight Engineer School in the U.S. Coast Guard at Little Rock AFB, becoming the first woman to both attend and graduate from that school. She was the first female C-130 Flight Engineer.
- Second woman to make BM1 in the U.S. Coast Guard: Debra Chambers Buchanan.
- Cadet 1/c Linda Johansen became Regimental Commander of the Cadet Corps of the U.S. Coast Guard, the first woman to win Corps command at any of the four service academies.
- Gail Harris became the first female and African American instructor at the Armed Forces Air Intelligence Training Center at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado.
- Hazel Johnson-Brown was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, making her the first black woman general officer in the history of the US military and the first black Chief of the Army Nurse Corps. She was also the first Chief holding an earned doctorate.
- The U.S. Naval Flight Officer (NFO) program opened to women.
- The first woman U.S. Naval aviator obtains carrier qualification (LT Lynn Spruill.)
- The first woman obtained Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) qualification in the U.S. Navy.
- The U.S. Marine Corps assigns women as embassy guards.
- June 1980, Petty Officer Jan Freeman was assigned to LORAN Station Kure, becoming one of the first two women assigned to isolated/restricted/independent duty there if not in the entire U.S. Coast Guard. Petty Officer Freeman had protested the restriction of enlisted women from serving at isolated/restricted/independent duty and forced the Commandant to change that policy.
- The first classes with women graduate from the United States Air Force Academy, United States Coast Guard Academy, United States Military Academy, and the United States Naval Academy. The first woman graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy is Jean M. Butler; 13 other women also graduate as part of the Academy's Class of 1980. 62 women graduate West Point with the Class of 1980. Andrea Hollen, the first woman to graduate West Point, is also the Academy's first woman to win a Rhodes Scholarship. Elizabeth Anne Rowe is the first woman to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy. Janie Mines is the first African-American female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Kathleen Conley was the first to graduate the Air Force Academy, and later returned to the Academy as an instructor. Linda Garcia Cubero was a member of the first class of women to graduate from the United States Air Force Academy. She is the first Hispanic woman to graduate from any service academy.
- The first woman is assigned to command a U.S. Naval Training Command (CAPT Roberta L. Hazard.) 
- September 8: Wilma L. Vaught became the first woman promoted to brigadier general in the comptroller career field.
- The first women join the U.S. Navy band.
- DACOWITS amended its regulations to include the concerns of U.S. Coast Guard women.
- Petty Officer Beth L. Suher was the first female quarters manager in the U.S. Coast Guard. She served at Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole's dining room as well as ADM Paul Yost's quarters in the early 1980s. She received her training at the Culinary Institute of America.
- MAJ Cathy Kelly becomes the U.S. Military Academy's first female Permanent Associate Professor when she is named a professor in the Department of Geography and Computer Science.
- The first woman was selected for the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program in the U.S. Navy.
- 1 September: Connie Swaro became the first active-duty woman in the U.S. Coast Guard to be promoted to E-8 when she was promoted.
- First Class Storekeeper Mary Alice "Mike" Shaffer retired from the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve after 34 years of service. She was the last World War II-era SPAR to retire from the service and was probably the only former SPAR to leave in compliance with legal maximum age requirements.
- Bonnie Koppell became the first female rabbi to serve in the U.S. military; she joined the army reserves in 1978 while a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was ordained in 1981.
- Lieutenant Colleen Cain, the first female U.S. Coast Guard pilot to fly an HH-52, became the first female Coast Guard aviator to qualify as an HH-52 co-pilot, pilot and aircraft commander.
- Michelle D. Johnson becomes the first woman to hold the position of Cadet Wing Commander at the United States Air Force Academy, and the first woman to hold the senior-ranking cadet position at any of the U.S. military academies.
- Dena Caradimitropoulo becomes the first woman and only the sixth cadet at West Point to win the AAA Special Award for “outstanding achievements and exemplary leadership in athletic competition.” 
- Kim Hall becomes the first woman at West Point to score 1,000 points in her basketball career.
- YN2 Angela Purdy was selected as the first female Sailor of the Year at sea in the U.S. Navy, while serving on board the USS Emory S. Land (AS-39).
- Olga E. Custodio qualified for Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas and graduated in 1981, thus becoming the first Latina to complete the U.S. Air Force military pilot training.
- November: Marcelite J. Harris becomes the first woman to be the Director of Maintenance for the Air Force 
- Lieutenant Colleen Cain became the first woman in the U.S. Coast Guard killed in the line of duty when the HH-52 she was flying as co-pilot crashed during a SAR mission.
- Barbara Allen Rainey became the first U.S. female aviator to be killed during a routine flight in 1982.
- First active-duty woman in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to Public Affairs Chief Petty Officer: PAC Day Boswell.
- The U.S. Air Force selects the first woman aviator for Test Pilot School.
- The U.S. Marine Corps prohibits women from serving as embassy guards.
- Women were permanently assigned to Diego Garcia in the U.S. Navy.
- LT Colleen Nevius became first woman selected for Test Pilot School in the U.S. Navy.
- RADM Pauline Hartington was the second woman line officer to be appointed Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
- First U.S. Navy instruction issued on sexual harassment, including definition, enforcement, and training required of service members.
- Policy on U.S. Coast Guard women in combat was established: Coast Guard Chief of Staff, RADM Paul A. Yost, Jr., noted: "the men and women on our vessels are trained and function as a team. Removal of women during wartime would degrade operational readiness while replacement personnel are trained and acquire experience." 
- Jacqueline A. Ball and Deborah R. Winnie were the first Hispanic women to graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
- First woman in the U.S. Coast Guard to be awarded the Air Medal: AD3 Carolyn DeLeo 
- First female radioman in the U.S. Coast Guard advanced to E-7: Robin Patton.
- Lia deBettencourt became the first woman to make U.S. Coast Guard Person of the Year for an entire District (D-5 in 1983 and D-3 in 1985).
- The Women's Swimming Team at West Point wins the inaugural ECAC Swimming Championship.
- The first U.S. Navy woman completes Test Pilot School.
- Approximately 200 U.S. Army and Air Force women are among the forces deployed to Grenada on Operation Urgent Fury. Women serve on air crews, as military police, and as transportation specialists.
- The first woman in any U.S. reserve component, an Air Force Reserve officer, is promoted to brigadier general.
- LT Susan Cowar became the first woman SWO screened for XO afloat in the U.S. Navy.
- Commodore Grace Hopper was the first woman spot promoted to Flag rank in the Restricted Line in the U.S. Navy.
- LTJG Jannine Weiss was the U.S. Navy’s first LDO pilot.
- First woman to complete U.S. Navy Dive School: BM2 Linda Moroz (she was assigned to the National Strike Force Dive Team, Elizabeth City, NC).
- Vivien Crea became the first U.S. Coast Guard female officer assigned as a Military Aide to the President.
- First active-duty woman to graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard's CPO Academy: Connie Swaro (17 August 1984).
- Karen Short becomes the first woman Regimental Commander and the first woman to command Cadet Basic Training (CBT) at West Point.
- Pam Pearson is the first West Point cadet to win all-America honors in women's basketball.
- Tracy Hanlon becomes the first female West Point cadet to qualify for Olympic trials.
- Kristine Holderied became the first woman to graduate first in her class at the U.S. Naval Academy.
- All Operational Air Reconnaissance (VP) squadrons in the U.S. Navy open to women.
- March: Catherine Small Long became the first female veteran to be elected to Congress.
- 3 June: The first U.S. Coast Guard aircraft ever flown by two female pilots conducted a SAR mission off the west coast of Florida. The flight crew consisted of LTJG Vickie Karnes and LTJG Cathy Bierne and they flew a HU-25A from Air Station Miami.
- Sherian Grace Cadoria is the first black woman promoted to brigadier general in the regular U.S. Army. When she retired in 1990, she was the highest ranking black woman in the entire military.
- Carmelita Vigil-Schimmenti became the first Hispanic female in the United States military to attain the rank of general.
- The US Postal Service issued a stamp honoring Mary McLeod Bethune, an educator and civil rights activist, who pressured U.S. Army leaders to allow black women in the WAAC/WAC during World War II. She assisted in the selection of the first black WAAC officer candidates.
- Denise Matthews became the first woman to graduate first in her class at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
- Lissa Young becomes the first female Deputy Brigade Commander and the first woman to command Cadet Field Training (CFT) at West Point.
- Leslie Lewis becomes the first female West Point cadet to win a Marshall Scholarship and a Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship.
- First woman to graduate at the top of the class from Damage Controlman School in the U.S. Coast Guard at Governors Island, April 1985.
- The first U.S. Air Force Reserve nurse is promoted to brigadier general.
- Gail M. Reals became the first woman promoted to general through the U.S. Marine Corps ranks. Margaret A. Brewer had received her star in 1978 by special appointment from President Jimmy Carter and approval of both houses of Congress.
- CDR Veronica "Ronne" Froman, first woman assigned as XO of a U.S. Naval Station.
- First female U.S. Coast Guardsman to graduate from Navy Rescue Swimmer School and the Coast Guard's first female rescue swimmer: Kelly Mogk (Larson).
- First woman promoted to CWO (PERS) in the U.S. Coast Guard: Pamela Jones.
- Pam Pearson becomes the first female West Point cadet to win All-America recognition in two sports (basketball and track).
- First female MSTC in the U.S. Coast Guard: Lia deBettencourt, 1986.
- Rabbi Julie Schwartz became the first woman to serve as an active-duty Jewish chaplain in the U.S. Navy.
- Six U.S. Air Force women serve as pilots, copilots and boom operators on the KC-135 and KC-10 tankers that refuel FB-111s during the raid on Libya.
- The First Recruiting District in the U.S. Navy has women as both CO and XO.
- LT Susan Cowar, SPECOPS officer, became the first woman SWO assigned as XO afloat in the U.S. Navy. SPECOPS officers also had to complete SWO qualifications.)
- For the first time in history, the U.S. Air Force Academy's top graduate is a woman.
- A Navy woman becomes the first female jet test pilot in any U.S. service.
- Rhonda LeBrescu Amtower was the first enlisted female U.S. Marine to attend and graduate the Defense Language Institute, where she studied Mandarin Chinese. After being commissioned she was the first female attaché at the U. S. Hong Kong consulate in 1986.
- The Combat Exclusion Law of the United States banning women from warships is lifted.
- LT Monyee Kazek and LT Jody Turner were assigned to 270s in 1989 as EOs, becoming the first female EOs of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter. LT Kazek was assigned in 1987 as the Pre-commissioning EO of the CGC Thetis.
- The U.S. Navy assigns its first woman Force Master Chief and Independent Duty Corpsman to serve at sea.
- The first woman was assigned CO of an NROTC Unit in the U.S. Navy.
- CDR Rosemary Bryant Mariner became the first woman screened for command of an aviation unit in the U.S. Navy.
- First woman in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to CWO (F&S): Ellen Terrill.
- First woman in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to CWO (MED): Connie Swaro.
- CPTs Kathy Gerard Snook and Bobbi Fiedler-Prinslow (both USMA '80) became the first female graduates to serve as USMA faculty members when they both joined the Department of Mathematics.
- Deborah Hanagan is the first female West Point cadet to win an Olmstead Scholarship.
- Ann Marie Wycoff wins the first national title by a female West Point cadet in capturing the 400-yard Individual Medley and leads the women's swimming team to a record-breaking fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division II Championships.
- Teresa Sobiesk becomes the first female West Point cadet in cross country history to win all-America recognition.
- The U.S. Air National Guard promoted its first female African-American general officer in 1987 - Air Force nurse Irene Trowell-Harris.
- First enlisted woman in the U.S. Coast Guard assigned to officer-in-charge afloat billet: Dianne Bucci, who commanded the CGC Capstan (WYTL-65601) commencing in September 1988.
- First woman appointed as U.S. Coast Guard Flight Officer (NFO): LT Samone Vassar.
- First African-American woman/first female engineer in the U.S. Coast Guard advanced to E-7: Pamela Autry.
- First Asian American female warrant officer in the U.S. Coast Guard: Grace Parmelee.
- Christine Siegworth becomes the first female West Point cadet to win a National Science Foundation Fellowship.
- The women's cross country team at West Point captures ECAC and NCAA East Coast Regional Division II Championship in qualifying for its first NCAA Division I bid. Three women win All-America honors including a second for Teresa Sobiesk.
- Ann Marie Wycoff is named the “Outstanding Female Swimmer” at the NCAA Division II Championships and becomes the first Army athlete to capture four national titles at a single championship event.
- NASA selects its first Navy woman as an astronaut, Kathryn D. Sullivan.
- The U.S. Coast Guard's "Chief Warrant Officer to Lieutenant" program promotes its first woman.
- U.S. Marine women are again assigned as embassy guards.
- CDR Debra Gernes was first woman selected for command at sea in the U.S. Navy.
- Twenty-four Combat Logistics Force (CLF) ships open to women in the U.S. Navy.
- Roberta L. Hazard was selected for promotion to rear admiral upper half May 18, 1988, the first woman to be board selected for that grade in the U.S. Navy.
- Petty Officer First Class Beth Lambert became the first female selected as Shore Sailor of the Year in the U.S. Navy. She was then meritoriously advanced to Chief Petty Officer.
- May 1 - Anne N. Foreman took office as United States Under Secretary of the Air Force. She served in this capacity until January 20, 1993.
- Sandra Stosz was the first woman to serve as the military aide to the Secretary of Transportation when she served as Aide to Secretary Sam Skinner from 1989-1990.
- First enlisted woman in the U.S. Coast Guard assigned as officer-in-charge ashore: Krystine Carbajal.
- First woman in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to CWO (ELC): Lauren Cantatore.
- First woman in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to CWO (COMMS): Robin Patton.
- The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard initiated the Women in the Coast Guard Study.
- Gail Harris became the first female and African American to lead the Intelligence Department for Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron in Rota, Spain, the largest U.S. Navy aviation squadron.
- CPTs Heidi Brown (USMA '81) and Mary Finch (USMA '83) become the first female graduates of West Point to serve as tactical officers.
- Kristin Baker becomes the first female Brigade Commander at West Point when she is named First Captain of the U.S. Corps of Cadets (Class of 1990).
- 2LT Laura Slattery (USMA '88) is the first woman to earn the title of distinguished honor graduate of the Air Assault School at West Point.
- Carla Miller becomes the first female West Point cadet to be named an all-America Division II in women's soccer by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
- Gillian Schweitzer becomes the first female West Point cadet to win all-Americas for diving (with success in both the one and three-meter dives).
- West Point cadet Ann Marie Wycoff, for the second-straight year, is named “Outstanding Women's Swimmer” at the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships and becomes the winningest female swimmer in NCAA Division II history, defending her national title in four events en route to her career total of nine. She will ultimately win 19 all-America recognitions.
- NASA selects its first Army woman as an astronaut.
- The U.S. Navy assigns its first woman as Command Master Chief at sea (Janice Ayers). She serves on board the USS Shenandoah (AD-44).
- The first woman EA was assigned to CNO in the U.S. Navy.
- A woman is the first person trained for a new specialty, Coast Guard Flight Officer. These officers are responsible for tactical coordination of the drug interdiction efforts aboard U.S. Coast Guard aircraft.
- 770 U.S. women deployed to Panama in Operation Just Cause. Two women commanded Army companies in the operation and three women Army pilots were nominated for Air Medals. Two received the Air Medal with "V" device for participation in a combat mission.
- During the invasion of Panama in 1989, CPT Linda Bray became the first woman to lead US troops in battle. CPT Bray commanded the 988th Military Police Company out of Ft. Benning, GA, and ordered her assault team to fire on soldiers of the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) who refused to surrender their positions at a dog kennel.
- Gail Harris was specifically chosen by the Director of Naval Intelligence and Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command to fill in as Acting Naval Attache, Egypt, for a five-month period, becoming the first female Attache to a Middle Eastern country.
- 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War: Some 40,000 American military women were deployed during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Desert Shield began with 14 women reservists from the U.S. Coast Guard serving in the Persian Gulf. One female U.S. Army doctor and one U.S. enlisted woman were held as POWs in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. 600 U.S. Navy women participated in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Navy women served on hospital ships, supply ships, fleet oilers, ammunition ships, repair ships, and tenders. Female Navy pilots flew helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft. Sixteen U.S. servicewomen were killed during the war.
- MAJ Margaret Bahnsen becomes the first female Regimental Tactical Officer at West Point (3rd Regiment), although MAJ Brenda Bradley served as an acting Regimental Tactical Officer in July 1987.
- CDR Rosemary Bryant Mariner became the first woman to assume command of an aviation squadron in the U.S. Navy.
- CAPT Marsha J. Evans became the first woman to assume command of a U.S. Naval Station.
- LCDR Darlene Iskra, SPECOPS officer, became the first woman to assume command of a ship in the U.S. Navy (USS Opportune (ARS-41)).
- CMDCM Carol Cooper became the first female Command Master Chief of a U.S. Naval Security Group.
- Amy Bratton becomes the first Army woman to qualify for the NCAA Championships in tennis.
- LT Sandra Stosz took command of USCGC Katmai Bay, becoming the first female commanding officer of a 140-foot icebreaking tug and also the first woman to command any U. S. Coast Guard vessel on the Great Lakes.
- First Women's Policy Advisor appointed in the U.S. Coast Guard: Lane McClelland.
- First woman in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to CWO (BOSN): Anne Visser.
- ENS Patricia A. McFetridge becomes the first female U.S. Coast Guard aviator to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross.
- 27 February: Then-Major Rhonda Cornum, United States Army, was shot down while aboard a helicopter in the Persian Gulf War. She and the others aboard the helicopter were made POWs and subjected to torture. She later co-wrote a book about her experiences, She Went to War: the Rhonda Cornum Story (ISBN 0891415076), with Peter Copeland.
- 1991: Women's Advisory Council established in the U.S. Coast Guard.
- March: Marie Rossi was the first woman in American military history to serve in combat as an aviation unit commander, during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and the first woman pilot in United States history to fly combat missions. She was killed when the CH-47 Chinook she was piloting crashed in Saudi Arabia, on March 1, 1991.
- Marilyn Melendez Dykman became the first Hispanic-American female U.S. Coast Guard aviator.
- LTJG Katherine Tiongson (née Faverey) took command of USCGC Bainbridge Island, becoming the first Hispanic-American female to command an afloat unit in the U.S. Coast Guard. She was also the first Hispanic-American female intelligence officer in the Coast Guard.
- Colleen McCabe ends her record-breaking sports career at West Point with a 21-7 record, a 0.53 ERA (ninth in the nation) and the league's “Player of the Year” her final year. Her records for strikeouts, wins and ERA are still team records.
- The U.S. Navy assigns its first women to command a Naval Station and an aviation squadron.
- The first U.S. Navy woman assumes command of a ship (CDR Deborah Gernes.)
- The [U.S.] Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces was created. The Department of Defense delayed implementation of a combat exclusion law change pending results of the Presidential commission.
- NCCM Ginger Simpson became the first woman director of the Senior Enlisted Academy in the U.S. Navy.
- For the first time in history, a woman is named Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy (MIDN Julianne Gallina.) 
- The U.S. Air Force Reserve selects its first woman senior enlisted advisor.
- The U.S. Congress repeals laws banning women from flying in combat.
- June: Paula Coughlin publicly acted as a whistleblower, opening investigations into what would later be known as the Tailhook scandal.
- Lane I. McClelland became the first active duty woman since SPARs promoted to the rank of captain in the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Rabbi Karen Soria became the first female rabbi to serve in the U.S. Marines, which she did from 1992 until 1996.
- First woman commanding officer of an air station in the U.S. Coast Guard: Vivien Crea.
- First Hispanic American woman advanced to E-7 in the U.S. Coast Guard: Sonia Colon.
- Marcia Geiger becomes the first female West Point cadet to win a Hertz Fellowship.
- Cpl. Marlene Shillingford becomes the first woman selected to join the Snowbirds team. The Snowbirds are the Canadian Air Force's aerobatic demonstration flying team.
- VCNO establishes guidelines for the proper portrayal of women in training and promotional media, to limit stereotyping and show the contributions women make to the U.S. Navy.
- LCDR Barbara Schooley becomes the first woman to assume command of a Reserve ship in the U.S. Navy.
- CDR Judy Chesser Coffman, of the U.S. Navy, was the first female helicopter pilot to fly in Antarctica, in support of the National Science Foundation.
- BUCM Carol Keehner becomes the first female seabee Master Chief in the U.S. Navy.
- CDR Lin Hutton becomes the first female U.S. Navy commanding officer of a Fleet Support Squadron, VRC-40.
- Brigadier General Carol Mutter assumes command of the 3d Force Service Support Group, Okinawa, the first woman to command a Fleet Marine Force unit at the flag level.
- First mixed gender recruit companies graduate from the U.S. Naval Training Command Orlando.
- Gunnery Sergeant Melody Naatz became the first female Drill Instructor in the U.S. Marines.
- 1992-1993: CPT Margaret Belknap (USMA '81), in the Systems Engineering department, is the first woman to serve as a White House Fellow.
- 4 February: The U.S. Navy notified Congress that all aviation squadrons, the Naval Construction Force "Seabees”, and all classes of ships with the exception of Submarines, Mine Counter Measure (MCM), Mine Coastal Hunters (MHC), and Coastal Patrol Boats (PC) were open to women.
- July: Sheila Widnall became the first woman to be chosen as Secretary of the Air Force.
- The women's soccer team at West Point wins the Patriot League championship for the first time.
- First enlisted woman since the SPARs to be advanced to E-9 in the U.S. Coast Guard: Patricia Stolle.
- First military woman assigned as Chief Judge of the U.S. Coast Guard: Lane McClelland.
- First woman promoted to E-7 in a weapons rating in the U.S. Coast Guard: Jo Wildman.
- BM2 Kathy Niles was the first woman in the U.S. Coast Guard to qualify on the 47-foot MLB (47200).
- First woman in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to MKC: Gayla Thompson. She was also the first woman who held the qualifications for EPO Ashore/Afloat.
- Col. Jeannie Leavitt (maiden name Flynn) became the first American female F-15E pilot, and went on to become the first female pilot to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Weapons School.
- Chana Timoner became the first female rabbi to hold an active duty assignment as a chaplain in the U.S. Army.
- The U.S. Congress repeals the law banning women from duty on combat ships.
- The Combat Exclusion Law is modified by the FY-94 Defense Authorization Bill.
- U.S. women deploy with the USS Fox.
- The U.S. Navy conducted its first Feasibility Study on women entering 1120 community and submarine ratings.
- The U.S. Secretary of Defense opened combat aviation to women aviators in April. A transition board approved 17 female aviators for transition to combat aircraft in the U.S. Navy. The first two women reported to a tactical squadron - LT Shannon Workman, pilot, and LT Terry Bradford, NFO, in Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 130. Initial female aviators arrived at CVW 11 squadrons.
- The U.S. Navy opened enlisted aircrew positions in shore-based combat squadrons, 2nd, 3rd, and 7th Fleet Afloat Staffs, and AORs, AOEs, LCCs, and AGFs. The following ratings became open to women: AW, EW, FC, GS, GSE, and GSM. Opening ratings and unit redesignation increased female sea duty opportunities by 25%.
- CAPT Patricia Ann Tracey and CAPT Katharine Laughton were selected by the same selection board for Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
- CDR Jane Skiles O'Dea, CDR Lin Hutton, CDR Rosemary Mariner, and Naval Reserve CDR Joellen Oslund were the first women aviators selected for promotion to Captain in the U.S. Navy.
- LT Shannon Workman became the first woman pilot to qualify for night landing on a carrier in the U.S. Navy.
- LCDR Janet Marnane was the first woman to report to a Carrier Air Group (CAG) staff in the U.S. Navy.
- RADM Marsha J. Evans became the first woman to be Commander, U.S. Navy Recruiting Command.
- Two women, LTJG Russell and LTJG Schweinfirth, completed a deployment aboard a combatant when they performed 179 days TAD aboard USS Fox (CG 33).
- The first U.S. female Naval aviator serves with a combat squadron (LCDR Kathryn P. Hire USNR, NFO, VP-62.) 
- The first woman assumes command of a U.S. Naval base (RADM Louise Wilmot, at Philadelphia.) 
- The U.S. Marine Corps opens pilot positions to women.
- 2nd Lieutenant Sarah Deal became the first woman Marine selected for Naval aviation training.
- The U.S. Army names a woman "Drill Sergeant of the Year" for the first time in the 24-year history of the competition.
- The U.S. Army assigned its first female combat pilot.
- The U.S. Air Force assigns the first woman to command an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) unit.
- The first female service secretary in the history of the U.S. armed forces is appointed.
- The first woman in any U.S. reserve component is promoted to major general.
- The U.S. Air Force assigns the first woman to command an air refueling unit.
- 1 July: Veronica Jones Sharpe retired from active duty after 20 years and 17 days along with two other African-American women, including Petty Officer Vonetta McGee. They were the first African-American enlisted women in the U.S. Coast Guard to retire from active duty after 20 years of service.
- Rear Admiral Louise Currie Wilmot retired. At the time of her retirement, she was the highest ranking and most highly decorated woman in the Navy.
- Although women had held command cadre positions aboard the U.S. Coast Guard's WPB fleet beginning in 1979 it was not until 1994 that the service began integrating their crews. During that year CGC Monomoy and Pea Island became the first fully integrated patrol boats in the Coast Guard.
- First woman in the U.S. Coast Guard assigned as Executive Assistant to the Commandant: Vivien Crea.
- Nadine H. Lewis was the first female YN in the U.S. Coast Guard to be awarded a cutterman's pin.
- The first woman assumes command of a U.S. Naval Air Station.
- The U S Naval Academy revised the service selection policy and for the first time women midshipmen were required to select warfare specialties under the same guidance as men. On service selection day, 63 women midshipmen chose Surface Warfare for their future career.
- Mary R. Henson becomes the first woman nuclear power candidate in the U.S. Navy.
- LT Shannon Workman, EA-6B Prowler, becomes the first woman combat pilot to successfully pass fleet carrier qualifications in the U.S. Navy.
- Maria A. Chavez, onboard USS MOUNT WHITNEY (AE 34), becomes the first woman frocked to Gunner's Mate (Guns), Third Class, in the U.S. Navy.
- USS VELLA GULF (CG 72) became the first U.S. Navy combatant to embark a mixed-gender Light Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helo detachment.
- LT Kara Hultgreen became the first U.S. Navy woman fighter pilot to be killed when her F-14 crashed into the sea during flight operations off the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72).
- CAPT Susan Brooker, USNR, became the first woman to assume command of a U.S. Naval Reserve Readiness Command.
- AZCS Hedy Rogers-Jones became the first senior enlisted female assigned to VFA-22 in the U.S. Navy.
- Petty Officer Margaret Cooper, the first woman underwater "Seabee," graduated with honors from Underwater Seabee Navy Dive School in the U.S. Navy.
- The first woman (an Air Force major) copilots the U.S. space shuttle.
- The U.S. Air Force Reserve gets its first female fighter pilot.
- The United States Department of Defense institutes a policy prohibiting the assigning of women to any unit below brigade level when the unit’s primary mission is direct combat on the ground.
- First women to receive permanent assignment orders to a combatant ship (USS Dwight D. Eisenhower) as members of the ship's crew. Sixty-three women receive permanent assignment orders to the ship; RM1 Terry Pelletier is the first to receive her orders. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower completes a successful deployment to Mediterranean with approximately 400 women assigned. The first two Navy women F/A-18 pilots fly combat missions from the USS EISENHOWER as they enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.
- Sheri Schweiker, a female West Point cadet, was named the Patriot League's women's softball “Player of the Year” and was the first player in league history to be selected for the first team in all four years.
- The women's judo team at West Point, sparked by national champions Becky Trojecki at 106 lbs. and Meghan Clark at 145 lbs., win the national championship for the first time.
- Catherine Gaffigan, a West Point cadet, wins the Patriot League cross country championship for the second-consecutive year and leads the team to its first league title this year as she qualifies for the Division I championship.
- Holly Pedley becomes the first female West Point cadet soccer player to be named a second team Division I all-America.
- Brigadier General Carol Mutter became the first woman major general in the Marine Corps, and the senior woman on active duty in the armed services.
- January: Martha McSally became the first woman in U.S. history to fly a combat aircraft into enemy territory when she flew her initial mission into Iraq to help enforce the United Nations' "no-fly zone." 
- March: Sheila C. Cheston served as General Counsel of the Air Force from March 1995 to October 1998.
- 25 May  - Marcelite J. Harris was promoted to the rank of Major General. She is the first African-American woman to reach that rank.
- Kelly Flinn became the first female B-52 pilot in the United States Air Force (USAF).
- A U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel becomes the first female space shuttle pilot.
- The first African-American woman, an Air Force officer, is promoted to major general.
- Rebecca Marier, a Corps Regimental Commander, becomes the first female valedictorian at West Point.
- Major Sarah Deal becomes the first United States Marine Corps female aviator.
- Doris Hull became the first active duty African-American woman in the U.S. Coast Guard to be promoted to warrant officer.
- BM2 Kathy Niles became the first woman in the U.S. Coast Guard to win the Munro Award.
- ENS Lucinda Cunnigham from the U.S. Coast Guard became the first female OIC in charge of any of the armed forces' honor guards.
- Gilda Jackson became the first African American female U.S. Marine Colonel and the first woman to command the Naval Aviation Depot, Cherry Point, NC.
- U.S. Lieutenant Commander Mary Townsend-Manning became the first woman to become eligible to wear the submarine “Dolphins” pin after completing submarine engineering duty officer qualifications.
- IS1 Robin Sou became the first female Intelligence Specialist placed for independent duty on board a surface combatant, USS BRISCOE.
- First women graduate the U.S. Navy “Seaman to Admiral” program (ENS Elisabeth M. Brown, ENS Donna I. Coccodrilli, ENS Nancy E. Schmidt) and are assigned to Surface Warfare Officer School, Newport, RI.
- LTJG Kirsten Culler becomes the first woman to complete training in the T-45 Goshawk, the U.S. Navy's newest training jet, after landing aboard USS CARL VINSON.
- CAPT Lin V. Hutton became the first woman to assume command of a U.S. Naval Air Station, NAS Key West.
- USS BENFOLD (DDG 65) was delivered as the first US Navy ship to be built, keel up, with habitability modifications necessary for full gender integration.
- CDR Judy Chesser Coffman was the first female U.S. Navy flight deck officer (on board the USS Essex), as well as the first to qualify as AV-8B LSO (in Yuma, AZ).
- Shannon Faulkner became the first female cadet to enter The Citadel. Faulkner enrolled after a successful lawsuit against the military academy. She joined an otherwise all-male class on August 15, 1995 under the escort of United States Marshals. After four hours of the military indoctrination training, she spent the remainder of the first week in the infirmary before voluntarily resigning, citing emotional and psychological abuse and physical exhaustion. After her departure, the male cadets openly celebrated on the campus.
- Rosetta Burke becomes the first female general of the Army National Guard.
- Jennifer Oliva and Victoria Huse become the first female West Point cadets to win Truman Scholarships.
- The first women in the history of the U.S. armed forces are promoted to three-star rank. Carol Mutter became the first female three star officer in the U.S. Marines. The U.S. Navy's first woman promoted to three-star rank (vice admiral) is Patricia Tracey.
- The USS LABOON, the Aegis-class destroyer, fired eight TOMAHAWK cruise missiles at Iraq, as part of the joint service strike against Saddam Hussein. LT(JG) Erica Niedermeier, Ordnance Officer, was one of two officers who supervised the strike team, and was one of 22 women assigned to the ship's crew of 340. The missile strikes were the first time female sailors had taken part in combat operations since the Navy opened warship assignments to women in 1994. They were also the first time a woman fired Tomahawk cruise missiles from a U.S. warship in a combat zone.
- CAPT Roseanne Milroy, NC, USNR, became the first Nurse Corps officer to command a fleet hospital in the U.S. Navy.
- CAPT Bonnie Burnham Potter, MC, USN became the first female physician in the Navy, Army, or Air Force to be selected for flag rank.
- LCDR Anne M. Krekelberg, CHC, became the first female U.S. Navy chaplain to join a warship, USS BATAAN.
- The first woman commands the U.S. Army's Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.
- The first woman commands a U.S. operational flying wing.
- Colonel Ann Wright received the State Department Award for Heroism, after helping to evacuate several thousand people during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
- Kelly Flinn was discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 1997 after an adulterous affair with the husband of an enlisted subordinate, for military offenses including disobeying a direct order from her commanding officer to break off the affair, and for lying to him about having done so. Flinn's trouble with the Air Force received widespread media attention at the time and was discussed in a U.S. Senate hearing on May 22, 1997.
- Joyce Johnson became the first female Admiral appointed from the Public Health Service to head the U.S. Coast Guard Health and Safety Directorate.
- The U.S. Military Academy conducts a 20th anniversary West Point Conference on Women Cadets recommended by the DA Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) to discuss gender issues with cadets and make recommendations on ways to improve the West Point climate for women.
- COL Maureen LeBoeuf is appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Physical Education becoming the first woman named head of an academic department and “Master of the Sword" at West Point.
- The U.S. Army assigns the first woman and the first non-doctor to command an Army hospital.
- Martha Rainville becomes the first woman to be named a state Adjutant General when she wins the legislative election for appointment as head of the Vermont National Guard, defeating 16-year incumbent Donald E. Edwards.
- Pamela Autry became the first female Chief of the Boat in the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Claudia J. Kennedy becomes the first woman in the United States Army to hold a three-star rank.
- The 1st group of female Marines complete the male/female integrated U.S. Marine Combat Training Course at Camp Geiger, NC, with LCpl Melissa Ohm as honor graduate.
- Gunnery Sgt. Patricia Crimmins became the first female U.S. Marine to earn the drum major military occupational specialty (MOS 5521).
- October 18, 1997: The Women in Military Service for America Memorial officially opens to the public.
- RADM Bonnie Burnham Potter became the first woman to assume command of National Naval Medical Command Bethesda (NNMC) in the U.S. Navy.
- 10 June: CDR Maureen Farren became the first woman in the U.S. Navy to command a surface combatant, USS Mt VERNON (LSD 39).
- 17 December: LT Kendra Williams, F/A-18 pilot, credited as first female pilot to launch missiles in combat. She was flying with the U.S. Navy in support of OPERATION DESERT FOX.
- Heather Wilson became the first female combat veteran to be elected to a full term in the United States Congress.
- RDML Lillian E. Fishburne became the first African-American female to hold the rank of Rear Admiral in the US Navy.
- CAPT Deborah Loewer was the first woman in the U.S. Navy selected for a major afloat command. Assumed command of USS CAMDEN (AOE 2) in December.
- Sally Brice-O'Hara became the first female commanding officer of a U.S. Coast Guard Training Center.
- First two female "Gold Badge" Command Master Chief Petty Officers in the U.S. Coast Guard: Patricia Stolle, Diane Bucci.
- First woman Chief Petty Officer Academy School Chief in the U.S. Coast Guard: Sandra O'Toole.
- The U.S. Air National Guard promotes the first woman to major general.
- 12 March: CDR Michelle Howard assumed command of USS RUSHMORE (LSD 47). She was the first African American woman to assume command of a surface combatant in the U.S. Navy.
- August: Carol A. DiBattiste became United States Under Secretary of the Air Force. She served in this position until 2001.
- First woman in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to CWO (WEPs): Jo Wildman.
- First women in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to CWO (ENG): Gayla Thompson, Karyn Terry.
- LTJG Kathy Niles became the first woman in the U.S. Coast Guard to command an 87-foot WPB when she took command of USCGC Stingray, Mobile, AL.
- Nicki Robbins becomes the first Army player selected to the Northeast Regional first team in women's softball.
- The Air Force promotes its first woman to lieutenant general.
- For the first time, a woman, an Air Force lieutenant colonel, commands the U.S. space shuttle.
- The first women graduate from the Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel.
- The first African-American woman is selected to command a Navy ship.
- Sgt. Kelly L. Anderson is the first woman to successfully complete Designated Marksman School at Fleet Combat Training Center Dam Neck, Virginia.
- MHC and MCM-class ships in the U.S. Navy were opened to female officers and enlisted. COROMORANT and KINGFISHER were the first to receive enlisted women.
- CMDCM Hedy Roger-Jones became the first female CMC assigned to a Strike Fighter Squadron, NAS Lemoore.
- The 28-day Sapper Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where combat engineers and engineer officers earn the Sapper tab, has been open to women since 1999.
- Linda J. Bird, USN was promoted to Rear Admiral (Lower Half) as the first female flag officer in the Supply Corps.
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'I felt that if I didn't make it off the floor, I was sure I was going to be gang raped,' said the former officer, Paula A. Coughlin, describing the scene at the convention in 1991 of the Tailhook Association, an independent group of retired and active naval aviators. Ms. Coughlin was among several dozen women who Navy investigators determined were groped or fondled by drunken male aviators in a crowded third-floor "gantlet" on the final day of the convention.mirror
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- GRCC Alumni