Whether it’s defending our country on the front lines or providing support to U.S. soldiers and civilian employees, African American women have made significant accomplishments in the Army.
Women’s Memorial compiled a list of trailblazers that helped paved the way for some of today’s Army leaders.
1st Lt. Nancy C. Leftenant
In March 1948, 1st Lt. Nancy C. Leftenant became the first black woman to become a member of the Regular Army Nurse Corps after joining the Reserve Corps in February 1945.
Margaret E. Bailey
In 1964, Margaret E. Bailey, Army Nurse Corps, was the first nurse to be promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 1970, she went on to become the first black nurse to hold the rank of colonel.
Capt. Clara Adams-Ender
In 1967, Capt. Clara Adams-Ender became the first female in the U.S. Army to qualify for and be awarded the Expert Field Medical Badge. In 1976, Lt. Col. Clara Adams-Ender became the first woman in the U.S. Army to earn the Master of Military Art and Science degree from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Command Sgt. Maj. Mildred C. Kelly
In 1972, Mildred C. Kelly became the first black female sergeant major in the U.S. Army.
S. Sgt. Joyce B. Malon
In 1974, S. Sgt. Joyce B. Malone became the first black woman to earn airborne wings in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Brig. Gen. Hazel W. Johnson-Brown
In 1979, Brigadier General Hazel W. Johnson-Brown became the first black woman general officer and the first black chief of the Army Nurse Corps.
In 1987, Irene Trowell-Harris became the first black female general officer in the National Guard.
Brig. Gen. Marcelite Harris
In 1995, Brig. Gen. Marcelite Harris, USAF, was promoted to major general, the first black woman to attain this rank.
U.S. Army Sgt. Danyell Wilson
In 1997, U.S. Army Sgt. Danyell Wilson became the first black woman to earn the prestigious job of guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
Edwina Martin, Fannie Jean Cotton, and Evelyn M. Brown
In 1951, Edwina Martin of Danville, Virginia; Fannie Jean Cotton of Jackson, Michigan; and Evelyn M. Brown of Shreveport, Louisiana were the first three black women commissioned as officers (second lieutenants) in the Air Force. All three graduated from the Air Force Officer Candidate School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
In 1969, Capt. Diane Lindsay, Army Nurse Corps, was the first black nurse to receive the Soldier’s Medal for Heroism.
This article originally published on Nov. 11, 2015.