Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Corbin Forum : History of Women in the Military

History of Women

in the Military
 Women's Army Corp
1779
Margaret (Molly) Corbin becomes the first woman to receive a military pension in the United States for her heroism and service to the country during the Revolution. She later resided in Highland Falls and her remains are today buried in the West Point cemetery.
1836
The Warner Sisters come to Constitution Island . For a half century, Susan and Anna Warner wrote popular novels and taught Sunday School to West Point cadets. Susan wrote a Wide Wide World , one of the nation's best sellers, in the 1850s. Anna wrote the words to the children's verse “Jesus Loves Me.” They later donated the island to the United States Military Academy in 1908. The remains of both sisters lie in the West Point cemetery.
1866
Dr. Mary E. Walker was the first and only woman ever to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for her distinguished battlefield medical service during the US Civil War. After becoming involved in the culturally unpopular suffragette movements at the turn of the 20th century, Dr. Walker was stripped of the medal, with the official reason stated being “to increase the prestige of the grant.” True to her character, Dr. Walker refused to relinquish the medal, wearing it constantly until her death. Years later in 1977, President Carter reinstated the validity of the medal.
 
1901
Army Nurse Corps is established.
1908
Navy Nurse Corps is established.
1941
1LT Annie G. Fox is the first female recipient of the Purple Heart, which she received while serving as a nurse at Hickham Field during the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.
 
1957
MAJ Emma Baird becomes Assistant Chief, Personnel Branch and is reputed to be the first woman staff officer at USMA.
LTC Hortense Boutell becomes the first female Logistics officer.
 
1968
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.
1973
1LT Virginia Fry becomes the first full-time female faculty member when she serves as a geography instructor in the Department of Earth, Space, and Graphic Sciences.
1975
President Ford signs legislation opening the service academies to women applicants.
1975-1980
Project Athena conducted. 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.
1976
119 women become the first women cadets at West Point when they join the Class of 1980.
 
Mrs. Sue Peterson becomes the first woman instructor in the Department of Physical Education.
1978
CBS made-for-television movie “Women at West Point ” aires.
MAJ Nancy Freebairn becomes the first woman tactical officer.
Women's basketball team, the “Sugar Smacks,” the first women's team to gain varsity status, finishes initial varsity year with an 18-5 record.
1979
Kathy Gerard becomes the first woman Brigade Executive Officer.
COL Mildred Hedberg becomes Chief of Staff, USCC.
Women's swimming team finishes its first varsity season undefeated and captures the New York State AIAW Division B Swimming Varsity Championship.
1980
62 women graduate with the Class of 1980. Andrea Hollen, the first woman to graduate, is also the Academy's first woman to win a Rhodes Scholarship.
 
 
Terry Tepper, nationally recognized javelin thrower, wins first trophy for “most valuable service to women's athletics” from the AAA.
MAJ Cathy Kelly becomes the Academy's first woman Permanent Associate Professor when she is named a professor in the Department of Geography and Computer Science.
1981
Dena Caradimitropoulo is the first woman and only the sixth cadet to win the AAA Special Award for “outstanding achievements and exemplary leadership in athletic competition.”
Kim Hall is the first woman to score 1,000 points in her basketball career.
The Women's Cross Country team wins the New York State Championship.
1982
Andrea Motley Crabtree becomes the first female deep-sea diver.
 
1983
The Women's Swimming Team wins the inaugural ECAC Swimming Championship.
1984
Karen Short becomes the first woman Regimental Commander and the first woman to command Cadet Basic Training (CBT).
Women's basketball team wins Eastern Regional NCAA Division II title; Melody Smith is named regional Most Valuable Player (MVP).
 
Pam Pearson is the first cadet to win all-America honors in women's basketball.
 
Tracy Hanlon, MVP of the women's division indoors, and Kathy Harrison, named the “outstanding woman competitor” outdoors, led the women's teams to a pair of Heptagonal Championships. Tracy Hanlon becomes the first woman cadet to qualify for Olympic trials.
 
Paced by Clare Hramiec, the women's swim team wins a second-consecutive ECAC swimming championship.
1985
Lisa Young becomes the first woman Deputy Brigade Commander and the first woman to command Cadet Field Training (CFT).
Women's indoor track team wins a second-consecutive Heptagonal Championship.
Marcie Seiner is named to the 1985 Academic all-America Division II team by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.
Leslie Lewis is first woman to win a Marshall Scholarship and a Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship
1986
Pam Pearson becomes the first woman cadet to win All-America recognition in two sports (basketball and track).
The women's track team wins third-straight Indoor Heptagonal Championship.
Rhonda Barush, captain of the rifle team, wins all-America recognition all four years.
Stephanie Santanello, of the Equestrian Team, ranks sixth in open jumping nationally.
1987
CPTs Kathy Gerard Snook and Bobbi Fiedler-Prinslow (both USMA '80) become the first women graduates to serve as USMA faculty members when they both join the Department of Mathematics.
Deborah Hanagan is first woman cadet to win an Olmstead Scholarship
Ann Marie Wycoff wins the first national title by a woman 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.
Kelly Pierce is a Division II Academic all-America for the second-straight year in women's swimming.
Laurie Goetz is named the “Player of the Year” in the Empire State Conference, MVP of the Metropolitan Basketball Coaches Association, and closed out her career as the second-leading scorer in women's basketball behind Melody Smith.
Teresa Sobiesk becomes the first woman cadet in cross country history to win all-America recognition.
 
Clare Hramiec completes her cadet swimming career with seven all-Americas in breaststroke and on a medley relay.
1988
Christine Siegworth is first woman cadet to win a National Science Foundation Fellowship
The women's cross country team 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.
Diana Wills named “Outstanding Woman Performer” at the indoor Heptagonals and later wins Division II National Championship in triple jump. Sobiesk wins Division II National Championship in the 10,000-meter run, finishes sixth in the Division I championship and qualifies for the Olympic trials.
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.
1989
CPTs Heidi Brown (USMA '81) and Mary Finch (USMA '83) become the first women graduates to serve as tactical officers.
 
BG Heidi Brown
Kristin Baker becomes the first woman Brigade Commander 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 .
Carla Miller is the first woman cadet to be named an all-America Division II in women's soccer by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America
Gillian Schweitzer becomes first woman cadet to win all-Americas for diving (with success in both the one and three-meter dives).
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.
Wills wins “Outstanding Female Performer” at the Heptagonals in women's outdoor track.
Women's softball team ranks first in the Northeast and fifth nationally in Division II; Colleen McCabe ranks first in strikeouts (210) in Division II.
 
 Colleen McCabe
 
1990
MAJ Margaret Bahnsen becomes the first woman Regimental Tactical Officer (3 rd Regiment), although MAJ Brenda Bradley served as an acting Regimental Tactical Officer in July 1987.
Amy Bratton is the first Army woman to qualify for the NCAA Championships in tennis.
Wills finishes third in the nation in the triple jump at the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championship. This was her third Division I all- America recognition and 12 th all-America overall. She will compete in the triple jump at the 1996 Olympics.
 
Elexa Wills
Led by Kathy Solomon, Shauna Hauser, and Jennifer Kelley (who won in their weight classes), the women's powerlifting team won the national championship. Hauser is named the best female collegiate weight lifter in America for the second consecutive year.
Jennifer Grzbek is Division II national champion in 200-yeard backstroke.
Colleen Criscillo ends her cadet career in swimming with 11 all-America recognitions primarily in breaststroke, relay and individual medley competitions.
1991
2LT Kathleen Sherry (USMA '89), loses her life in Operation Desert Storm.
The women's basketball team, competing at the Division I level for the first time in eight years, reaches the finals in the Patriot League and finishes second nationally in scoring defense.
The women's handball team wins the collegiate title for the third consecutive year.
The women's powerlifting team wins its third-consecutive national title.
Amy Bratton is the Metropolitan Conference “Player of the Year” in women's tennis.
Colleen McCabe ends her record-breaking career 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.
1992
Marcia Geiger is first woman cadet to win a Hertz Fellowship.
The women's volleyball team wins the Patriot league regular season title and defends its playoff championship sparked by Jen Mischler, team captain, who was named to both the all-league first team and all-tournament teams.
The women's weightlifting team wins its fourth-consecutive national title.
1992-1993
CPT Margaret Belknap (USMA '81), in the Systems Engineering department, is the first woman to serve as a White House Fellow.
1993
The women's soccer team wins the Patriot League championship for the first time.
1994
Sheri Schweiker named the Patriot League's women's softball “Player of the Year” and is first player in league history to be selected for the first team in all four years.
Tanesha Hodge is named “Outstanding Female Performer” and leads the Army women's indoor track team to its third-straight Patriot League title.
The women's judo team, sparked by national champions Becky Trojecki at 106 lbs. and Meghan Clark at 145 lbs., win the national championship for the first time.
Cadets and Academy respond to inappropriate actions by several football players at a Spirit Run and win widespread recognition for dealing professionally with cases of sexual harassment.
Catherine Gaffigan 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 woman cadet soccer player to be named a second team Division I all-America.
 
 
1995
Rebecca Marier, a Corps Regimental Commander, becomes the first woman valedictorian
Jen Johnston, of the women's softball team, wins one of four ECAC Awards of Valor in recognition of “a student athlete whose courage, motivation and relentless determination serves as an inspiration to all.”
1996
Jennifer Oliva, who is the fourth Academy woman to win a Rhodes Scholarship, is also, along with Victoria Huse, the first Academy women to win Truman Scholarships.
The Army women's team handball team is named national collegiate champion by the U.S. Team Handball Federation.
1997
The Academy conducts a 20 th 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.
LTCs Barbara Treharne (USMA '80) and Heidi Brown (USMA '81) are among four women who are selected to command air defense artillery Patriot battalions.
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.”
 
Glenda Wrenn finishes second in the hammer throw at the Junior National Track and Field Championships.
Holly Pedley wins Northeast Region Division I all- America honors for the third-straight year in women's soccer. She is the Patriot League's offensive player of the year, a co-scholar/athlete of the year, and only the fifth player to be named an all-league first team selection all four years.
1999
Alison Jones receives a Soldiers Medal for heroism for her service following the terrorist bombing of the American Embassy in Nairobi , Kenya . She becomes only the second cadet in a decade to receive this honor.
CPT Jennifer Shafer Odom (USMA '92) gives her life to her country in a reconnaissance aircraft crash participating in anti-drug operations in Colombia .
Nicki Robbins is first Army player selected to the Northeast Regional first team in women's softball.
2000
Alana Jackman becomes an American Quarter Horse Association Champion.
Robbins earns “Player of the Year” and Sarah Hatton wins “Pitcher of the Year” and lead the women's softball team to its third team title and first NCAA tournament bid.
2001
Kimberly Pienkowski becomes the first Academy woman to win a first team all-America in air rifle.
 
Robbins wins her third league “Player of the Year” award and Shauna Evans wins “Pitcher of the Year” as they led the softball team to its fourth title, second NCAA Tournament bid, and first win in an NCAA tournament. At graduation, Robbins sets the team record in batting average, runs batted in, and home runs.
COL Ann Horner becomes the first woman Garrison Commander at West Point .
2002
Jeannie Huh becomes the first Academy woman to win a Mitchell Scholarship.
Lauren Rowe is the first cadet to win Patriot League “Defensive Player of the Year” award in women's soccer and only the second to win regional first-team all-America recognition.
2004
Grace Chung becomes second woman to be named First Captain of the U.S. Corps of Cadets (Class of 2004)
Katie MacFarlane graduates as the Patriot League's all-time leading rebounder in both men and women basketball and is the Army women's basketball record-holder in scoring, rebounding and field goals.
BG Rebecca Halstead (USMA '81) becomes the first woman graduate to attain the rank of general officer. Before the end of the year, BG Anne Macdonald (USMA '80) becomes a second.
 
BG Rebecca Halstead
Michelle Weinbaum becomes first fencer in the 72-year history of the Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association to win three consecutive invitational titles.
CPT Anita Allen (USMA '00), who won the gold medal in the Modern Pentathlon at the Pan American games the year before, competed in Modern Pentathlon at the Olympics and finished first in the Equestrian portion and 18 th of 32 contestants overall.
2005
Stephanie Hightower becomes third female First Captain of the U.S. Corps of Cadets. (Class of 2006).
Khara Keegan becomes first woman to receive the “Outstanding Boxer Awards” at the 49 th Brigade Boxing Open.
 
1LT Laura Walker (USMA '03) becomes first woman West Point graduate to be killed in action when she gives her life for her country in Kandahar , Afghanistan .
 
 
2006
2LT Emily Perez (USMA '05) becomes the first female West Point graduate to be killed in action in the Iraq War.
 
2008
Lt. Gen. Ann Dunwoody becomes the first female four-star general in the U.S. Armed Forces.
 
Information provided by the Office of the USMA Historian