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Women In Armed Forces Saluted women from all wars getting respect

#1 User is offline   Laracroft 

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  Posted 15 March 2005 - 09:34 AM

this is about time they mention women from WWI and WWII.

WASHINGTON -- Women in uniform are doing their share in the Iraqi and Afghanistan war zones -- and taking their hits.

A Pentagon spokesman said that 23,409 women were deployed in the two countries in support of U.S. operations as of last Dec. 31.

A total of 31 servicewomen have given their lives, and 254 women have been wounded in those theaters of action.

Women in uniform are bravely taking their chances. They are not fighting on the ground, but they fly planes for the Air Force and Apache helicopters for the Army. Women have helped in all previous wars. Even Gen. George Washington called for women nurses to assist doctors in the Revolutionary War. The Army officially established a nursing corps in 1901.

Women also served in both world wars as clerks, radio operators, electricians, chemists, accountants and telephone operators.

Two women who served in Iraq -- both from West Virginia -- became high profile for different reasons. The Pentagon hype on the rescue of Jessica Lynch gave new meaning to the expression that truth is the first casualty of war.

Lynch, of Palestine, W.Va., was a clerk with an ordnance maintenance unit that was ambushed. Nine of her comrades were killed, and Iraqi soldiers took her to a local hospital. Reports that she had stab and bullet wounds turned out to be false, though she suffered shoulder and leg injuries and trauma in the melee.

The Iraqi doctors insist she was well treated at the hospital, a claim that Lynch later confirmed. The Pentagon says U.S. Special Forces troops staged a dramatic rescue.

The other woman -- whose name also became a household word -- is Pfc. Lyndie England of Fort Ashby, W. Va., who was photographed holding a leash on a naked prisoner at Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison near Baghdad. That memorable picture was published worldwide. She is facing court martial charges.

Both women are victims of war.

The Alliance for National Defense, a non-profit, non-partisan organization representing women in the military, keeps tab on women in the military.

In its most recent newsletter, the Alliance asked for special remembrances for two other women.

One was Sgt. Jessica M. Housby, a motor transport operator, who was killed last month when an explosive device was detonated near her convoy while on the way to Baghdad Airport.

Lt. Archie Rose of the Illinois National Guard said Housby was at the top of her class of 187 troops because of her "hard work, enthusiasm and responsibility." She received an award in 1999 after taking part in a training exercise at Fort McCoy, Wis.

Among the more recent casualties was Pfc. Megan Adelman-Tenning of Alliance, Ohio, who was in the final week of paratroop training at Fort Benning, Ga., when both her primary parachute and the back-up failed to open.

The Alliance also paid tribute to the recent passing of Army Col. Mary A. Hallaren, 97. She was the legendary pioneer who commanded the first battalion of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) to serve in Europe in World War II.

She was another reminder of today's unsung heroines.

The much-decorated Hallaren headed the largest unit of women to serve overseas in World War II.

She lobbied to win the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, which made women part of the regular armed services.

A schoolteacher when World War II broke out, the diminutive Hallaren decided to join the Army in 1942 after her brothers enlisted. She stood on her toes to meet the height requirement.

The recruiter was doubtful but she won him over when she told him, "You don't have to be 6 feet tall to have a brain that works."

Women were formally taken into the service when Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels asked in 1917 if there were any regulation that specified that a Navy yeoman had to be a man. Of course, there wasn't, and within months women were enlisting in the Navy for non-combat jobs.

Some 90,000 women served in World War I and more than 400,000 in World War II.

In a speech in England in 1945, Hallaren told the WACS that everyone had bet they could not endure Army discipline.

"Everyone who voted against you lost," she said.

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: Copyright 2005 Hearst Newspapers

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