This will appear the week of Sept 30, 2014 in The Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana, USA

Following a seventy year battle, American females were given the right to vote in Federal elections in 1920. Four years later Nellie Taylor Ross became the first woman elected as a state governor. She had a successful career in government and eventually was selected by Franklin Roosevelt to head the United States Mint. During research I discovered letters where her gender was never displayed in the correspondence; however, it was her political position, knowledge and her stance on prohibition that were discussed. This was the exception in the 1920s and taboos on women in office continued for decades. Probably the biggest gender divide has been in the role of the female in the military.
Women have very slowly been brought into military roles that would lead to combat activity. There are rare exceptions to this such as female Greek commander who won praise for her leadership at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC and Joan of Arc who won numerous battles in 1430 and was later burned at the stake in 1431. These were very rare occurrences of female heroics in combat.
During World War I the Russians began leading the world in using females at the front line. Russia deployed a fully female combat unit. In World War II the British and the Germans used many thousands of females in anti-aircraft units that brought down hundreds of enemy air craft. The one difference in their male counterparts was that female roles were limited to positions that traditionally would not expose them to capture or potentially becoming a causality. There were exceptions. One example was the lives depicted in the book, “They Were Expendable”. A book depicting the PT Boats in the Philippines in the early days of World War II also contained excerpts of American nurses that had to wait for the Japanese invasion of the country and ultimate capture. The book was made into a motion picture starring Ward Bond, John Wayne and Donna Reed and leaves the audience wondering of the outcome of the nurses.
World War II saw the introduction of the use of female snipers. Again the Russians led the effort and one of Russia’s best known snipers was a female using the old Mosin Nagant World War I vintage bolt action rifle. Without a scope she is credited with killing over 300 German soldiers. She was sent to the United States and was the first Soviet citizen to meet with a United States President. She went on tours of Canada and Britain and raised money for her beleaguered army.
America continued to use females near the front and behind the lines during World War II. American nurses performed heroically during this period of time. I grew up with women of the war having a major impact on my life. My neighbor Becky Post was a Navy Nurse and met her husband while he was a young Marine Lieutenant in Florida. My mother worked for the Red Cross and worked at the hospitals when the men were brought home from Bataan and the Bulge. Her request to go to Italy was denied when it was discovered that her husband, an Army Lieutenant was at the front in Italy. Such was the strength of the females during that time of war.
In Viet Nam again the female was there as nurses and corpsmen but again they were kept off the front lines. The TV series “China Beach” shows heroic acts and mental anguish of women and combat. But things were definitely beginning to change.
The service academies began to admit women to the ranks. Our own Viet Nam decorated service man, Jimmy Odom, can proudly proclaim that his daughter is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Women also began to appear in the flight sector and women climbed into the cock pits of some of the most technology advanced fighters in our air wings. While I was in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm it became a common occurrence to see women driving Humvees down the streets of Al Khobar. Not only were women behind the steering wheels of military vehicles but they were driving in a country that had previously prohibited female drivers. I feel that in the future this single action will lead to more liberalism of women in that country. Unfortunately, there are consequences. When America launched the invasion of Iraq. America lost one female driver when her convoy was attacked. Ironically, being an American Indian she also represented the first settlers of our great country.
Today countries such as Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States are taking steps to further open up the military role of women in combat. I welcome this action but with the only caveat being that physical requirement are not compromised to allow for open gender participation.
How dynamic it is at the announcement that the United Arab Emirates air wing that slammed ISIS in Syria last week was led by a young female lieutenant. This speaks volumes for not only for the role of females in combat but the role of females in the Middle-East.
’S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRLS
Following a seventy year battle, American females were given the right to vote in Federal elections in 1920. Four years later Nellie Taylor Ross became the first woman elected as a state governor. She had a successful career in government and eventually was selected by Franklin Roosevelt to head the United States Mint. During research I discovered letters where her gender was never displayed in the correspondence; however, it was her political position, knowledge and her stance on prohibition that were discussed. This was the exception in the 1920s and taboos on women in office continued for decades. Probably the biggest gender divide has been in the role of the female in the military.
Women have very slowly been brought into military roles that would lead to combat activity. There are rare exceptions to this such as female Greek commander who won praise for her leadership at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC and Joan of Arc who won numerous battles in 1430 and was later burned at the stake in 1431. These were very rare occurrences of female heroics in combat.
During World War I the Russians began leading the world in using females at the front line. Russia deployed a fully female combat unit. In World War II the British and the Germans used many thousands of females in anti-aircraft units that brought down hundreds of enemy air craft. The one difference in their male counterparts was that female roles were limited to positions that traditionally would not expose them to capture or potentially becoming a causality. There were exceptions. One example was the lives depicted in the book, “They Were Expendable”. A book depicting the PT Boats in the Philippines in the early days of World War II also contained excerpts of American nurses that had to wait for the Japanese invasion of the country and ultimate capture. The book was made into a motion picture starring Ward Bond, John Wayne and Donna Reed and leaves the audience wondering of the outcome of the nurses.
World War II saw the introduction of the use of female snipers. Again the Russians led the effort and one of Russia’s best known snipers was a female using the old Mosin Nagant World War I vintage bolt action rifle. Without a scope she is credited with killing over 300 German soldiers. She was sent to the United States and was the first Soviet citizen to meet with a United States President. She went on tours of Canada and Britain and raised money for her beleaguered army.
America continued to use females near the front and behind the lines during World War II. American nurses performed heroically during this period of time. I grew up with women of the war having a major impact on my life. My neighbor Becky Post was a Navy Nurse and met her husband while he was a young Marine Lieutenant in Florida. My mother worked for the Red Cross and worked at the hospitals when the men were brought home from Bataan and the Bulge. Her request to go to Italy was denied when it was discovered that her husband, an Army Lieutenant was at the front in Italy. Such was the strength of the females during that time of war.
In Viet Nam again the female was there as nurses and corpsmen but again they were kept off the front lines. The TV series “China Beach” shows heroic acts and mental anguish of women and combat. But things were definitely beginning to change.
The service academies began to admit women to the ranks. Our own Viet Nam decorated service man, Jimmy Odom, can proudly proclaim that his daughter is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Women also began to appear in the flight sector and women climbed into the cock pits of some of the most technology advanced fighters in our air wings. While I was in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm it became a common occurrence to see women driving Humvees down the streets of Al Khobar. Not only were women behind the steering wheels of military vehicles but they were driving in a country that had previously prohibited female drivers. I feel that in the future this single action will lead to more liberalism of women in that country. Unfortunately, there are consequences. When America launched the invasion of Iraq. America lost one female driver when her convoy was attacked. Ironically, being an American Indian she also represented the first settlers of our great country.
Today countries such as Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States are taking steps to further open up the military role of women in combat. I welcome this action but with the only caveat being that physical requirement are not compromised to allow for open gender participation.
How dynamic it is at the announcement that the United Arab Emirates air wing that slammed ISIS in Syria last week was led by a young female lieutenant. This speaks volumes for not only for the role of females in combat but the role of females in the Middle-East.

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