Women in Uniform

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Night Duty, US Naval Hospital
Cecile Ryden Johnson
Watercolor, 1965

This Navy nurse is working at the Naval Hospital Great Lakes, Illinois during the first year of American involvement in the Vietnam War. At that time, this hospital was one of the newest and largest in the Navy. During the fighting in Southeast Asia over 11,000 patients were treated here, many arriving only four to six days after being wounded.


WAVE Dental Assistant
Salvatore Indiviglia
Watercolor, 1961

The artist gathered material for this painting of a WAVE dental assistant working with a Navy dentist at the U.S. Naval Dental Facility at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.


On Lookout Watch
DeCaprio, Alice
Acrylic, 1979

Former WAVES officer and artist Alice DeCaprio was invited onboard USS Vulcan (AR-5) at Colts Neck, New Jersey to observe women assigned to this Repair Ship and create a series of paintings for the Navy Art Collection. In this one of Seaman Nancy Woods, DeCaprio stated that "[her choice of a] pastel-toned background gave an indication of perhaps some lightness and femininity to be contributed to Navy atmosphere by having the girls on hand."


Quartermaster, USS Vulcan (AR-5)
DeCaprio, Alice
Casein, 1979

In 1978, USS Vulcan (AR-5) became the first U.S. Navy ship to have women permanently stationed aboard. Depicted here is Quartermaster Linda Coffelt in the Pilot House.


Working on a Small Boat Engine
Christine Cancelli
Oil on canvas, 1974

Navy artist Christine Cancelli's assignment to "paint for the official Navy Combat Art Collection a series of paintings depicting women on the job with the fleet and in fleet related billets" came immediately on the heels of the consolidation of men and women's training commands in May, 1974. For 32 years, since the first WAVES were recruited in 1942, enlisted men and women had separate "boot camps," but 1974 marked the beginning of a new Navy concept of "One Navy." The Officer Schools for men and women had been combined two years earlier in 1972.

When Cancelli painted these two women at Naval Station San Diego, she was struck by the fact that they do "any and all work that the other sailors are required to do."


Completing an Underwater Assignment
Christine Cancelli
Oil on canvas, 1975

Two divers of Harbor Clearance Unit (HCU) TWO on the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Virginia complete an assignment.


Woman Helo Pilot Turning Up
Christine Cancelli
Oil on canvas, 1974

The setting for this painting is Naval Air Station, North Island in the metropolitan San Diego area. Ensign Joellin Drag of HC-3 Squadron was the only woman helo pilot at that station when the painting was made. With her under the front of the helicopter is pilot Catherine Graham. They are going through the routine checks that precede every flight - a process called "turning up." Aviation training was opened to women in 1973 and the naval flight officer program six years later.


Preflight walkaround of a MH-53 Helicopter
Monica Allen-Perin, CDR
Watercolor, 2003

Beginning in the 1980s, female helicopter pilots got the opportunity to land on aircraft carriers, one of the most challenging maneuvers that a pilot could ever tackle. This MH-53 can operate from carriers and other warships. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the MH-53 was used primarily for Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), with a secondary mission of shipboard delivery. Mine hunting and mine clearing operations were very successful during OIF.


On an Oil Recovery Barge
Christine Cancelli
Oil on canvas, 1974

Shown is Lynn Grooms, SN, who is part of an oil recovery operation on the waterfront. She drives the boats and helps get the vessel underway. Here the artist has depicted her twice: once steering and again pulling in the lines for shoving off.


Plane Captain with TA-4
Christine Cancelli
Oil on canvas, 1974
Darci A. Asher of VC-7 had been flying the TA-4 for seven months at Naval Air Station Miramar when Navy artist Christine Cancelli caught up with her. Cancelli commented that Asher's was "a very exciting job, and a demanding one, physically, she's holding her own in the pits." In the painting, Asher has just directed this TA-4 to a landing and is going through the procedure following a flight.


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