American women have been making military history for centuries. From the Revolutionary War to today, countless women have served and sacrificed for our nation.
While thousands of groundbreaking women have come before them, these 15 female service members are blazing new trails and making their mark on modern military history.
1. Capt. Kristen Griest
In 2016, Capt. Kristen Griest, center, became the first female Army infantry officer in the nation’s history. A year earlier, Griest and Lt. Shaye Haver (not pictured) were also the first women to graduate from the Army’s famed Ranger School.
2. Adm. Michelle Howard (Ret.)
Adm. Michelle Howard (Ret.) made history in 2014 when she became the first four-star woman in Navy history. Howard served as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe before retiring in 2017.
3. Capt. Jammie Jamieson
In 2008, Air Force Capt. Jammie Jamieson became the first female fighter pilot to qualify in the F-22A Raptor.
4. Capt. Kate Alfin
In January 2016, Army Capt. Kate Alfin, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot, became the first female soldier from an allied NATO military to complete the Allied Winter Course at the Norwegian School of Winter Warfare.
5. 1st Lt. Virginia Brodie and 2nd Lt. Katherine Boy
Then-2nd Lts. Virginia Brodie and Katherine Boy made Marine Corps history in 2016 when they became the service’s first female artillery officers. Brodie, of Manhasset, N.Y., graduated at the top of her Basic Officer Leader Course class and Boy ranked sixth out of 137.
6. Capt. Christy Wise
Air Force Capt. Christy Wise became the first female amputee to regain her wings when she was medically cleared in 2016. Wise, who was injured when she was hit by a boat while paddle boarding, endured 15 months of rehabilitation, learning to walk, run and fly again.
7. Gen. Lori Robinson (Ret.)
Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson (Ret.) took over as leader of U.S. Northern Command in 2016, becoming the first woman to lead a combatant command and, at the same time, the highest-ranking woman in U.S. military history. She retired from the military in 2018.
8. Lt. Col. Christine Mau (Ret.)
Air Force Lt. Col. Christine Mau (Ret.) became the first U.S. female pilot to fly the F-35 Lightning II, when took to the skies from Florida’s Elgin Air Force Base in 2015.
9. Staff Sgt. Sarah Deckert-Perry
Then-Army Sgt. Sarah Deckert was named 2014 Armed Forces Chef of the Year and is the first woman to win the award.
10. Lt. Col. Caroline “Blaze” Jensen
Lt. Col. Caroline “Blaze” Jensen in 2012 became the first female Air Force reservist named to the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – better known as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
11. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs in 2004 when the Black Hawk helicopter she was flying was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. When she was elected to Congress in 2012, she became the first disabled female to do so. She retired from the Army National Guard as a lieutenant colonel in 2014.
12. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.
In addition to being the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot, is also the first female to command a fighter squadron in combat. McSally, a retired colonel, was first elected to Congress in 2014.
13. Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz (Ret.)
When she was named superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy in 2011, Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz (Ret.) became the first woman to lead a U.S. military service academy.
14. Chief Petty Officer Dominique Saavedra
Chief Petty Officer Dominique Saavedra became the first female enlisted sailor to earn her submarine qualification, or “dolphins,” marking a major milestone for female sailors.
15. Tammy Barnett
When Louisiana native Tammy Barnett, center, took the oath of enlistment on April 8, 2016, she became the first woman to enlist for an infantry job in the U.S. Army.
-This story originally appeared on USO.org in 2017. It has been updated in 2020.
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