Honoring Trailblazing Military Women on Women's Veteran's Day

At R.Riveter, we believe in celebrating the extraordinary contributions of military spouses and women in the armed forces. As we commemorate Women's Veteran's Day on June 12th, we honor the remarkable women who have broken barriers, defied expectations, and paved the way for future generations.

Here are some of the strongest military women in history whose stories inspire us every day.

1. Private Cathay Williams

Cathay Williams made history as the first African American woman to serve in the U.S. Army. During the Civil War, Williams disguised herself as a man and enlisted under the name William Cathay. Despite the immense challenges and risks, she served for several years until her true identity was discovered when she fell ill. Her courage and determination highlight the lengths women had to go to serve their country.

Image courtesy of U.S. Army 

2. Colonel Mary Hallaren

As the first woman to join the Women's Army Corps (WAC), Mary Hallaren commanded the largest all-female unit overseas during World War II. A tireless advocate for women's rights in the military, she fought for women's ability to serve in peacetime as well. Known for her sharp wit and determination, Hallaren once said, "You don't have to be six feet tall to have a brain that works.” She left an indelible mark on military history.

Unknown military photographer - U.S. War Department

3. Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho

Patricia Horoho broke new ground as the first woman and nurse to become the Army Surgeon General. Her heroic efforts on September 11th, 2001, where she aided over seventy individuals, showcased her exceptional dedication and skill. Horoho's innovations in military medical treatment have had a lasting impact, improving care for countless soldiers.

Image: Wikipedia

4. Admiral Michelle Howard

Michelle Howard's career is a testament to breaking barriers. She became the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Rushmore, and the first woman to achieve the rank of four-star admiral. Her leadership in operations like Desert Storm and Desert Shield, along with her academic achievements, exemplify her trailblazing spirit and commitment to excellence.

Image: U.S. Navy

5. Lori Robinson 

Lori Robinson is another groundbreaking figure in U.S. military history. In 2016, she became the first woman to lead a major Unified Combatant Command as the commander of the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Her extensive career in the Air Force included various command and operational roles, showcasing her expertise in both strategic and tactical domains.

Robinson's leadership and achievements have set a new standard for women in the military, demonstrating the critical role they play in national defense and global security.

Image Source: U.S. Air Force

6. Major Annie G. Fox

Annie G. Fox was the first woman to receive the Purple Heart for her bravery as the head nurse during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Her quick thinking and leadership in the face of overwhelming adversity earned her this honor, later converted to a Bronze Star Medal when the Purple Heart criteria changed. Fox's legacy is one of courage and dedication.

Image Source: https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/a_people_at_war/women_who_served/articles_women_who_served/annie_fox.html

7. Lieutenant Colonel Marcella Hayes Ng

Marcella Hayes Ng made history as the first African American woman pilot in the U.S. Military. After earning her pilot wings, she became a pioneering leader, serving as the first Black woman officer in the 394th Transportation Battalion in Germany. Her groundbreaking achievements paved the way for greater diversity and inclusion within the military.

Image Source: https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/the-sky-is-no-limit/

8. Colonel Ruby Bradley

Ruby Bradley is one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history. Captured during World War II, she spent 37 months as a Japanese prisoner, where she provided medical care and smuggled food to fellow prisoners. Upon liberation, she weighed less than ninety pounds but continued to serve for another eighteen years, retiring with 34 decorations, awards, and medals.

Image Source: IrishCentral.com

9. Ann E. Dunwoody 

Ann E. Dunwoody made history in 2008 when she became the first woman in the U.S. military to achieve the rank of four-star general. With a distinguished career spanning nearly four decades, Dunwoody held numerous command and staff positions, significantly impacting the logistics and operational capabilities of the Army.

Her achievements broke new ground for women in the military, demonstrating that gender is no barrier to the highest levels of leadership and responsibility. Dunwoody’s trailblazing career has inspired countless women to pursue military service and leadership roles.

Image Source: Brittanica

10. Major Christy Wise

Christy Wise exemplifies resilience and determination. After losing her leg in an accident, she became the first female amputee to return to flying in the Air Force. Her remarkable comeback serves as an inspiration to many, proving that physical limitations do not define one's capabilities or potential.

Image Source: CBS News

Celebrating Their Legacy

As we celebrate Women's Veteran's Day, we honor these incredible women who have pushed boundaries and shattered stereotypes. Their bravery, resilience, and unwavering commitment to service have opened doors for future generations of women in the military.

At R.Riveter, we draw inspiration from their stories, crafting handbags that symbolize the strength and spirit of military spouses and women in service. Join us in celebrating these trailblazing women and all those who continue to serve with courage and dedication.