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A Revolutionary Tradition

"It was said long ago by a visitor to America - Alexis de Tocqueville - that the American woman thinks for herself, speaks with freedom and acts on her own impulse. I would add that she also chooses to defend freedom - her own and that of others."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Nov. 3, 2007

Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress

Deborah Sampson changed her name to Robert Shurtlief to fight in the Revolutionary War and was wounded twice. Elizabeth Newcom enlisted as Bill Newcom to serve in the Mexican War. Sarah Rosetta Wakeman enlisted as Pvt. Lyons Wakeman to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.

They are among the more than 2.5 million women who have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution, contributing to the nation's

security and setting examples of courage, service and commitment to freedom.

Military leaders began relying on women in large numbers during the Spanish American War, assigning 1,500 contract nurses to Army hospitals. By the end of World War II, more than 110,000 women had served as military nurses and more than 400,000 had served in noncombat jobs at home and overseas.

In 1948, the U.S. Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, granting women permanent status in the Regular and Reserve

forces of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Today the tradition continues. Women serve in almost every capacity in the armed forces, including in combat zones on land, at sea and in the skies. More than 90,000 women have served as fighter pilots, medics, military police and in other positions since the start of the global war on terror on Sept. 11, 2001. Currently, almost 16,000 women are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and related areas.


Army Maj. Lisa L. Carter
A two-time Iraq veteran, enjoys her career as an Army officer and wants the public to know military people have the same dreams and aspirations as their civilian counterparts.


Army Pfc. Sarah Becker
Spent most of her year deployed as an Army medic gaining the respect of soldiers across Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.


Air Force Senior Airman Vanessa Velez
Thought her year in Afghanistan would be spent maintaining vehicles. Instead, she found herself "driving a fully loaded Humvee outside the wire in enemy territory at least five times a week."


Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joy Flumerfelt
A medical technician, normally treats American troops. Within a month after deploying overseas, she treated nearly 100 Afghan villagers.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Emily K. Klinefelter
May be a woman and a sailor, but she wants people to know that she has seen combat firsthand and gone through a lot of the same experiences as her brethren in the ground forces.


Navy Capt. Maggie L. Richard
A 22-year veteran in the Navy Nurse Corps, embodies the dutiful commitment enshrined at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.


Marine Sgt. LaDilvia S. Gregg
With the aid of an unmanned aerial vehicle, Marine Sgt. LaDilvia S. Gregg used her eyes to safeguard troops on the ground during her tour as an imagery analyst in Iraq.


Marine Lt. Tabitha White
Lt. White considers it a privilege to be an American. She joined the Marine Corps as an air defense control officer to take partin protecting the nation's liberties and freedoms.