army mc af navy


CMDMC(SW) Karen O'Connor became the first female Command Master Chief to serve in that position on a Navy "Big Deck.". Master Chief O'Connor reported to the USS BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD 6) in March of 2001 after completing a Command Master Chief tour onboard the cruiser, USS PORT ROYAL (CG 73)

The Bonnehomme Richard is a multipurpose amphibious assault ship.

Kati Garner was the first woman to complete and graduate from the U.S. Navy Diving School, SCUBA, in 1973 at the 32nd St. Naval Satation in San Diego California. After graduation she worked at the Water Survival Department at North Island Air Station on Coronado and at the Marine Mammal Training Program. For more about women divers please see Military Women Divers


Patricia Denkler Rainey was the first woman to land a "fleet/combat" A-6 Intruder on an aircraft carrier in August 1982.


In 1975 at Ft. Lee Karen Weiner, later Kassa, was the first WAC 91R to serve there. She was a Food Inspection Specialist, a field that was predominately male, at that time. Karen remembers one incident, shortly after her arrival: " When a Mess hall called concerning some meat that they were "afraid" had gone "bad". I walked in and asked, "you called for an Inspector?" with which the reply quickly came, "Yea, where is he"! lol, I then announced that I was "he".
She was also the first female (WAC) 91R to serve working on the economy as a class 3 Inspector at Valleydale Meat Packing Company in Bristol Va, one of only a couple slaughter houses where the military procured veal.
Karen says now - "In all honesty, the best part of being a "first" is having my daughter tell me how "awesomely cool" it is to have a Mom that put her own mark in history!"

Karen A. (Weiner, Kassa) Marrone

Jheri Womack came into the Air Force just when the aircraft maintenance field opened to women. She was the first female aircraft electrician the 19th Bomb Wing had. Much later in her career, in 1983, she became the first female Thunderbird aircraft electrician. And finally was the first enlisted female Commandant for the Robins AFB Airman Leadership School. Jheri says now: "Every time I think back now I remember I just wanted to do a good job. I am seriously considering donating my helmet and uniform from when I was on the Thunderbird Team to the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation.
Jheri Womack

Esther Erin Smith was the first female Intelligence Specialist to receive orders to a ship. She was assigned to the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69).Her name is IS1 (was IS2 at the time) Esther Erin Smith (DAVIS was her name at the time) is currently stationed aboard the USS JOHN C. STENNIS.

In April 1975, Victoria Rose Gaul was the first woman Honor Graduate from the Tactical Microwave Communication Systems Course, Signal School, Ft. Gordon, GA. Afterward, Specialist Gaul became the Distinguished Graduate from the Non Com Basic Leadership Class, Ft. Ord, CA. She was also the Soldier of The Month, twice, once for Battalion, and once for Discom, and earned medals, and letters of Commendation, Recognition, and Appreciation during her time in the Army.

Sara Faulkner , Aviation Survival Technician 3rd class is now a USCG helicopter rescue swimmer. - the first female to graduate from the Coast Guard's Rescue Swimmer school. She joined the CG in Jan of 96 and finally became rated as a AST3 June 2000. Sara says "Over four years! It took me to follow my dream to do what I joined the CG to do. I dont know what was tougher the long painful doubtful road to school or school itself. It sure does feel good to know that I have accomplished my dream. To be a female rescue swimmer. To jump out of helicopters to save people, for a job! Its even sweeter when I think I was the first. "

Lt Commander Lorelei Alison Conrad is the first female to become a Navy Bandmaster in the Navy Music Program. I was privileged to be stationed with her in the Naval Academy Band. Mu-1 Tom Goloski

Carmen E. Cole, an African American, became the first female Warrant Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, Motor Transport Maintenance Field (3510) on February 1, 1993. Her promotions to Chief Warrant Officer 2 and 3 were also first in the U.S. Marine Corps, Motor Transport Maintenance Field.ś She retired a Chief Warrant Officer-3 on May 1, 2001. (Thanks to Robert Bracy for this info.)

Commander Kathleen McGrath was the first American woman ever to take a warship to sea. Commander McGrath led the navy frigate U.S.S. Jarrett and its crew of 262 to the Middle East, where they prowled the northern reaches of the Persian Gulf. Their mission was to hunt down ships smuggling Iraqi oil in violation of United Nations sanctions.
Thanks to Astrid Hakvoort from the Netherlands for reminding me about Commander McGrath.

From Joyce R. Brown:
I was scrolling your web site and I wanted to let you know about my mother - SGM Mary L. Brown. She was promoted to the rank of SGM on 01 Mar 2005. What's remarable about that is the fact that she is the First African American female to be promoted to that rank as a 92R (Parachute Rigger). The first females were allowed in the Rigger Field in 1974. SGM Mary L. Brown will be the Department SGM for the Riggers, which will also be a first at Ft Lee, Virginia.

USN LT Robin Erichsen was the first female to be qualified as a 'shooter' on a US Navy aircraft carrier. The 'shooter' is the officer responsible for the launching of an aircraft from a carrier. She qualified in 1991 and was then assigned to the USS Lexington and the USS Forrestal.

USN LT Christine (Cricket) Acton was the first female to be qualified as an Air Wing LSO. She may well be the first female LSO, but definitely the first to be qualified to wave all Navy carrier air wing aircraft types. LSO stands for Landing Signals Officer and is the person that talks on the radio and gives visual signals to an aircraft coming to land on the carrier.
Very proud to know them both. Mike Yambrovich (former USN LT and Naval Aviator)

I want to provide you with information on three women who deserve to be included on your site.
The first is RADM Deborah Loewer, USN (ret), who was the first warfare rated woman promoted to flag rank. She served as Commanding Officer of the USS Mount Baker and USS Camden and also was Director of the White House Situation Room during the 9/11 time frame.
The second is CAPT Kathleen McGrath, USN (ret), who died in 2002 of complications from breast cancer. Kathy was the first woman to command a US warship, the USS Jarrett. She also served previously as the Commanding Officer of the USS Recovery.
The third is CAPT Lee Little, USN (ret), who was the first woman commander of an aviation wing. She commander TRAINING WING 6 in Pensacola, which provides primary flight training for Naval Flight Officers, Weapons Systems Officers, and International Flight Officers. Lee served on a carrier during the first Gulf War.
Deborah A. Deacon,CDR, USN (ret)
Dean of Graduate Studies, Harrison Middleton University

Firsts continued...Do you know what ships were named for women? More Unique Firsts

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Unless otherwise noted content © 1996 to date by Captain Barbara A. Wilson, USAF (Ret)