In celebration of Women’s History Month, the 522nd Military Intelligence Battalion hosted an observance March 26 in the Tony Bass Auditorium on Clay Kaserne.
Soldiers from the 522nd highlighted the biographies of six trailblazing women in history, and the event ended with a speech by Brig. Gen. Kate Leahy, U.S. Army Europe deputy commanding general for mobilization and reserve affairs.
One Soldier read about Deborah Sampson Gannett, who disguised herself as a man to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. According to the biography, she was one of a small number of women with a documented record of military combat experience in war. She also served again for 17 months and was wounded and honorably discharged in 1783 after it was revealed she was a woman.
The second biography was on Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray, an American civil and women’s rights activist, lawyer, priest and author who was the first black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.
Michelle Janine Howard is the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Rushmore, and the first to achieve two- and three-star rank.
Famous Pakistani activist for girls’ education Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.
Leigh Ann Hester became the first female U.S. Army Soldier to receive the Silver Star since World War II and the first ever to be cited for valor in close quarters combat.
Kristen Marie Griest became one of the first two women to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School, in 2015. When Griest graduated from Ranger school, women were not allowed to serve in Ranger and Infantry roles, due to the Pentagon’s exclusion policies on women in combat. That policy changed later that year when then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the U.S. military would open combat positions to women with no exception. In 2016, Griest became the first female infantry officer in the U.S. Army when she transferred there from a military police unit.
“Our nation’s history and our Army’s history are filled with gallant men and women who have answered our nation’s call,” Leahy told attendees. “Without the selfless service and dedication of our Army’s women, our Army simply could not—would not—succeed. The women we recognized today, like you, are the heart and soul of this amazing Army in which we are all proud to serve.”
However, there is still work to be done, she said. “I’m proud of our Army’s unrelenting focus on eradicating sexual harassment and assault and of the success that we are achieving through the ‘Not in My Squad. Not in Our Army’ initiative through which we reinforce the value and dignity of every member of our team and take responsibility for looking out for one another. In this arena, we all must be leaders and set the example in order to sustain our precious, values-based organization.
“For more than 240 years, women have truly affected the course of our wars and our peace; our nation and our Army. To the women who have come before us and blazed the trail: we owe a debt of gratitude,” Leahy said. “To the men who have joined us today: Thank you for taking the time to participate in this event. We are indeed one Army, one team and one indispensable force for good in the world.”