On August 7, 1972, Chief of Naval Operations Elmo Zumwalt Jr. issued Z-Gram 116, expanding opportunities for women. Also that year, Arleen Duerk became the first female in the U.S. Navy to be promoted to rear admiral. A World War II and Korean War veteran, she also served as the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps. Additionally in 1972, the first Navy team of women trained at the Fire Fighting School, Naval Station, Treasure Island, San Franciscco, California. They were later assigned to USS Sanctuary (AH-17), the first ship with a mixed male-female enlisted crew. Another enlisted woman who made a notable achievement in 1972 was Constructionman Camella J. Jones, the first woman in the Navy to qualify as a Heavy Equipment operator.
In 1973, Personnelman Seaman Nancy R. Garner became the first Navy female to graduate from the Navy Diving School. In February, Lieutenant Junior Grade Barbara Allen Rainey became the first U.S. female naval aviator. The other three laters chosen to be the first four naval aviators were: Ensign Jane M. Skiles, Lieutenant Junior Grade Judith A. Neuffer, and Ensign Kathleen L. McNary. Public Law 94-106, signed by President Gerald R. Ford in October 1975, required U.S. military service academies admit women by 1976. Eighty-one females began training at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, with fifty-five graduating in 1980. In May 1976, Fran Mckee became the first female line officer in the Navy to be promoted to rear admiral. Before the decade wa over, Navy Nurse Joan C. Bynum beame the first African American female to be promoted to the rank of captain. The Navy also expanded on the variety of ships women could swerve onboard such as oilers, tenders, and other auxiliary ships. In 1979, Lieutenant Donna L. Spruill became the first female naval aviator to qualify on an aircraft carrier in a fixed-wing aircraft.
NMUSN Women in the U.S. Navy Pamphlet
NHHC Women in the U.S. Navy Focus
Image: 428-GX-USN-1168170: New Midshipmen return a hand salute, July 1976. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.