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Modern Day

In modern day, women continue to make additional strides in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps.  In 2001, Captain Vernice Armour, USMC, became an aviator and was the first female African American combat pilot during Operation Iraqi Freedom, completing two tours in the Persian Gulf.   In addition to aviation, many U.S. Navy service women volunteered to serve in the Middle East during Operation Enduring Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism following 9/11.   In 2006, Rear Admiral Carol M. Pottenger became the first female to command a major combat force, the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet/Expeditionary Strike Group Seven.  Two years later, following a 28 year career, Barbara Sisson retired from the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps, where she served as the first female instructor at the Civil Engineer Corps Officer School and the first regimental commodore, the 3rd Naval Construction Regiment.  

On January 9, 2010, Secretary of the Navy Ray Maybus announced that women would be assigned to Ohio-class submarines.   Also in that year, Rear Admiral Nora Tyson became the first woman to command a carrier strike group in the Navy.   Five years later, Tyson would assume command of the Third Fleet and become the first woman to lead an operational fleet.  In 2012, Vice Admiral Nanette DeRenzi became the 42nd Judge Advocate General of the Navy.   Also in that year, female Navy medical personnel were assigned to Marine Corps combat battalions after those positions were opened to women.  Michelle Howard was selected to be the first woman four-star admiral in 2014 and later became the Vice Chief of Naval Operations while Rear Admiral Marget Kibben was selected to become the first Chief of Navy Chaplains.   In August 2020, Lieutenant Junior Grade Madeline G. Swegle became the first African American female tactical jet naval aviator, qualifying to fly Navy strike aircraft such as F/A-18 "Super Hornet", F-35C "Joint Strike Fighter", and EA-18G "Growler". 

Other Resources:

NMUSN Women in the Navy Pamphlet

NHHC Women in the Navy Focus

Image:  090522-N-5549O-375:  President Barack Obama congratulaes Ensign Katherine Besser in 2009 upon graduation and commissioning at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.   Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.