Nellis remembers two centuries of women serving in uniform.

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Charles
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office
In 1778 Robert Shurtlief enlisted into the Continental Army as a citizen of the newly formed United States of America in order to protect the liberties of every person who cherished freedom. 

The major difference between this private and the many that also joined the Army was this enlistee was a woman - Deborah Sampson. 

Sampson was cited as feeling the need to do her part in the war effort. She felt that women, even with as little liberties as they had at the time, could make a major difference in the war effort. At the time; however, women were not allowed to serve in the military. Knowing this, she disguised herself as a man and joined the Army. By enlisting she became the first woman to serve in the United States military, helping to pave the way for more than 2.5 million who would later serve their country with honor.
This month Team Nellis is taking time to reflect on the contributions women have made to our nation's freedom in both the past and present as part of Women's History Month. 

Women have played active roles in all military branch services since our nation was started. 

Military leaders began relying heavily on women during the Spanish-American War, assigning 1,500 women nurses to Army hospitals. By the end of World War II, women had moved into other roles in the military. The Women Air Forces Services Pilots was established as a unique corps of women pilots who were trained under the U.S. Army Air Forces to fly military aircraft. 

Women continue to play a valuable role in molding our Air Force into the branch it is today. 

In 1992, Jean Flynn [currently Jean Leavitt] became the first woman to graduate Undergraduate Pilot Training and the first American woman to enter combat training as a fighter pilot. By 2002, she had flown more than 2,000 hours in the F-15E Strike Eagle, including 200 hours of combat time in Operation Allied Force. She was also the first female pilot to graduate from the Air Force Fighter Weapons School here. Lt. Col. Leavitt continued to break barriers, becoming the first woman assigned to the Weapons School as an F-15E instructor pilot. 

Colonel Leavitt will not be the last woman to set standards for women in the military
Recently Lt. Col. Brenda Cartier became the first female flying commander in the Air Force Special Operations Component in February. Colonel Cartier is a master navigator who has flown more than 3,900 hours in T-43, E-3B/C and AC-130U aircraft, and has spent more than a decade in the special operations field. 

This month the Air Force encourages its Airman to reflect on the many contributions of the courageous women who have made this nation strong. 

For more information about Women's History Month and women's contribution to the Air Force mission, visit http://www.af.mil/whm09.asp.