VFW Post 8904, Auxiliary Honor Women in Service

October 25, 2021 - VFW Post 8904 and Auxiliary honored Women in Military with a ceremony held October 18, 2021, in front of the Shelby County Veterans Memorial beside the 1885 Historic Courthouse.

The event was attended by post members and members of the public alike.

Larry Hume, Post Quartermaster, welcomed everyone to the event. The history of women in the armed forces began more than 227 years ago with women serving during the American Revolution continuing into present day.

All women who have served courageously, selflessly and with dedication in times of conflict and times of peace were honored. Women whose achievements have gone far too long without being recognized and ignored.

Women have shared many responsibilities as they served on the battlefield as nurses, water bearers, cooks and saboteurs. During the civil war women disguised themselves as men in order to serve.

Dr. Mary Walker received the medal of honor in 1865, the only woman to receive the nation's highest military honor.

During the Spanish-American War in 1898, from which the VFW was founded, thousands of soldiers became sick with typhoid, malaria and yao fever.

1,500 contract nurses were assigned to army hospitals, as well as the hospital ship named Relief. 20 of these nurses died as a result of their contact with the soldiers.

Over 21,000 nurses served in World War I in the United States and overseas.

The Navy and Marine Corps enlisted thousands of women to free up men to fight. 400 military nurses died during World War I.

During World War II there were more than 60,000 nurses serving stateside and overseas. Captured by the Japanese were 67 Army nurses in the Philippines in 1942 who were held as prisoners of war for over 2 1/2 years.

Over 150,000 served in the WACS, as they were called then, with thousands sent to the Pacific and Eurpoean theaters. 800,000 joined and served in the Navy and the Marine Corps also enlisted women to release men for combat. In the Korean War, the women who joined the reserves following World War II were involuntarily recalled and more than 500 Army nurses served in combat zones in Korea.

Over 7,000 military women served in Vietnam with the majority of them being nurses. An Army nurse was the only U.S. military woman to die from enemy fire in Vietnam with six others dying in the line of duty. 1971 saw the promotion of the first woman to the rank of Brigadier General in the United State Air Force and the first women completed the aircraft maintenance school in the Air Force.

In 1973 the first women earned their pilot wings. In 1974 an Army officer becomes the first woman military helicopter pilot. This was followed in 1976 by the admission of women into all service academies and in 1978 the Marine Corps promoted its first woman to the grade of Brigadier General. Also in 1978, the WAC (Women's Army Corps) was disestablished and all of its members integrated into the regular Army.

In 1983 200 Army and Air Force women were among forces deployed to Grenada. 1984 for the first time in history the Naval Academy's top graduate was a woman. Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm saw the deployment of 40,000 American military women and two of them were taken as prisoners of war by the Iraqis.

1998 saw the first woman fighter pilot drop a payload of missiles in combat. By year end in 2004, 19 service women had been killed in combat since the war began in 2003. In 2005 the first woman in history was awarded the Silver Star for combat action. For the first time in history in 2008 a woman was promoted to the rank of Four-star General.

In 2015, three women Army officers now wear the coveted Ranger tab on their uniform and they also all happen to be United States West Point graduates.

Women who have served were recognized.

Center Police Officer Angela Neal who is a five year Army Veteran placed the Memorial Wreath in honor of all Women Veterans.

Historical information sourced from Larry Hume.