History of Army Women

in the NCO Corps (1961 - 1975)

1961

Jul

Centralized by-name assignment for all enlisted personnel initiated by the Adjutant General's Office, DA.

 

1962

20 Jan

Participation by the 14th Army Band (WAC) in the Inaugural Parade for President John F. Kennedy

WACs at the JFK Inaugural Parade  WACs at the JFK Inaugural Parade

WACs at the John F. Kennedy Inaugural Parade

1 Jul

Office of Personnel Operations established in DA with an Officer of Personnel Directorate and an Enlisted Personnel Directorate for personnel actions.

 

31 Jul

SFC Mina A. Nelson retired, the first enlisted woman to retire with 20 or more years active duty.  She entered active duty 17 July 1942 at age 43 at Seattle, WA.  She served with the 149th Post HQ Company in Algeria, Italy, France and Germany.

 

12 Sep

A newly constructed barracks for the WAC Detachment, Fort Eustis, VA, named in honor of MSG Margaret O'Dwyer who died 7 December 1961 after 10 years of service.

    MSG O'Dwyer Pictured with Dedication Ceremony

Brochure for Barracks Named after Her

 

1963

14 May

The WAC Exhibit Unit, called "Serving with Pride and Dignity," initiated to inform the public of WAC service in the Army.  For six years a WAC officer, WAC NCO and four enlisted women traveled USA-wide with the unit.

 

Jul

Weapons familiarization and voluntary firing of small arms was deleted from WAC training programs when the US Carbine, 30 Cal., M1 rifle was replaced by the M14, a four pound heavier weapon.

NCO Logistics Specialization Program initiated to encourage all NCOs to serve in supply and logistics.

 

Aug

Leadership Orientation Course initiated at WAC Training Battalion, WAC Center - the first for basic trainees since Leaders Course at Fort Lee.  (In 1973, it was retitled Special Leadership Program).

 

1964

Jun

The first WAC (SGT Patsy Wright) assigned for duty in the Army Attaché System was posted to Athens, Greece.

 

Jul

DA Enlisted Personnel Directorate organized a special section for centralized assignment of E-8's and E-9's.

A new policy allow WACs in grade E-5 with 10 years' service and E-6's and above to be assigned to posts and activities without a WAC unit.  In 1965, the 10 years' service requirement for E-5's was withdrawn.

For the first time, DA allowed women to be assigned to bands other than the 14th Army Band (WAC).

 

1 Oct

US Army Recruiting Command activated at Fort Monroe.

 

5 Oct

Drill Sergeant Courses opened at the NCO Academies at basic combat training centers.

 

1965

15 Jan

The first two WACs to be assigned as Advisors to the Women's Armed Forces Corps of the Republic of Vietnam arrived in Saigon - MAJ Kathleen I. Wilkes and SFC Betty L. Adams.  NCOs who followed SFC Adams as WAC NCO Advisor to the WAFC between 1966 and 1973:  MSGs Jane O. Salzobryt, Mary E. Phillips, Evelyn Ford, Mary J. Hinton and Sylvia R. Bernardini.

MAJ Wilkes & SFC Adams observing issue of clothing to the Army of Vietnam's Women's Army Corps.

                           MAJ Kathleen Wilkes and SFC Betty Adams in

                          Vietnam observes the issue of clothing to members

                           of the newly formed (at that time) Army of

                          Vietnam's Women Army Corps.

 

Mar

The Enlisted Personnel Management System initiated to enhance career development for all NCOs and enlisted personnel.

 

Apr

An interchangeable (I) code authorized for use on manning documents to designate manpower spaces by grade and MOS that could be filled either by an enlisted man or woman, effective 1 July 1965.

 

Jun

SFC Ramona J. Meltz appointed the first enlisted Bandleader of the 14th Army Band (WAC).  Later promoted to MSG, she held this position until she retired in 1973.  Upon retirement she received the Legion of Merit.  MSG Bernice R. Goldstein served as Bandleader until 1975 when she retired; SFC Barbara L. Graham was bandleader until she transferred to another Army band in 1976; then the 14th Army Band received a male bandleader.

             SFC Ramona J. Meltz - First Enlisted Bandleader            SFC Barbara L. Graham, Bandleader 1975 - 1976

MSG Ramona J. Meltz                          SFC Barbara L. Graham

 

Oct

The WAC Training Battalion building (#2281) at the WAC Center, Fort McClellan, named in honor of SGM Florence G. Munson, who died 29 October 1964.  She had been Sergeant Major of the WAC Training Battalion from 6 August 1959 to 12 January 1964.

 

Nov

The first NCO to hold the rank of E-9 as Sergeant Major in the Office of  the Director WAC (ODWAC) at the Pentagon was Florence M. Tait, promoted 4 November 1965.  Between 1967 and 1978, these NCOs held the position:  SGM Elizabeth J. Burns, SGM Mary E. Richmond, MSG Lois J. Williams and SGM Beverly E. Scott.  (ODWAC was deactivated April 1978).

Fifteen WAC stenographers arrived in Saigon for duty at HQ, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV).  The senior NCOs were:  Sp7 Mary L. Curry, SFC Louise M. Farrell, Sp6 Theresa A. Catano and Sp6 Anna S. France.

 

1966

Enlisted Evaluation System implemented.  It included an MOS Proficiency Test, a Commanders' Evaluation Report and established the Variable Enlistment Bonus.

 

 

A WAC Career Management Section established in the Enlisted Personnel Directorate, DA, to assign WAC NCOs in grades E-7, 8 and 9.  Section headed by a WAC NCO Assignment Adviser (E-9).  NCOs assigned this position 1966 to 1975:  SGM Betty L. Adams, MSG Mary K. Johnson, SGM Grace L. Mueller and SGM Mildred C. Kelly.

 

Feb

Women's Tri-Service Barracks opened at Fort Myer, VA, with Anna M. Armour as First Sergeant.

 

30 Jun

Discharge on marriage for enlisted women eliminated.

 

1 Sep

First enlisted women assigned counter-intelligence duty under the Office of the Provost Marshal General.

 

31 Oct

Advance party arrived Tan Son Nhut Airport in Saigon to establish a WAC unit for HQ U.S. Army Vietnam.  Cadre members were:  1st SGT Marion C. Crawford; Administrative NCO, SFC Betty J. Benson; Supply Sergeant, SSG Edith L. Efferson and two unit clerks:  PFC Rhynell M. Stoabs and PFC Patricia C. Pewitt.

                        1st SGT Marion Crawford with WAC Detachment, Vietnam

1ST SGT Marion C. Crawford, WAC Detachment, Vietnam,

stands retreat with the detachment, January 1967

                             

1967

Jan

 

Unit members began arriving in Vietnam for the WAC Detachment.  The unit moved to Long Binh in July 1976 and remained until deactivated on 12 October 1972.

 

10 Feb

Secretary of Defense authorized a 30 percent increase in WAC strength for the Vietnam War.

 

14 Apr

Two WAC NCOs graduated from the Women Marines' NCO Leadership Course, Quantico, VA - SSG Lorna E. Mix and SSG Josephine Soboleski, who was top graduate.

 

Jul

SFC Louise M. Farrell was the first WAC assigned to Thailand.

Secretary of Defense authorized top three graders an off-post housing allowance when minimum standards (a private sleeping room) could not be met on post.  Living space in barracks for lower graders was increased.

The Army's Command Sergeant Major Program initiated.

 

8 Nov

Law enacted (PL 90-130) that removed grade and retirement restrictions on women officers and permitted WAC officers and enlisted women to serve in the Army National Guard.

 

1968

5 Jan

A 4-week NCO Leadership Course initiated at WAC School.  SSG Rosalie A. Fleshman was honor graduate of the first class that graduated 2 February 1968.  A total of ten classes graduated 380 NCOs before the course was discontinued in 1972.  Women were included in the NCO Educational System and attended the same leadership courses as men.

 

30 Mar

Sergeant Major Yzetta L. Nelson, Sergeant Major of the WAC Training Battalion, was the first WAC appointed a Command Sergeant Major (E-9) in the Regular Army.

 

Apr

Authorized strength of the 14th Army Band (WAC) increased from 42 enlisted women and one officer to 60 enlisted women and one officer.

First WAC assigned the Pacific Stars & Stripes, Editorial Dept., Tokoyo - SFC Jean E. Bienert.

 

Jun

First WAC assigned to Berlin since the end of World War II - SP6 Florence I. Woolard.

 

Sep

First WAC NCO instructor assigned to the Adjutant General's School, Fort Benjamin Harrison - SFC Florence Torrence.

 

1969

Jan

An Enlisted Career Management Program initiated for E-5's with over three years' service and for grades E-6 through E-9.  Program included the centralized selection for promotion to grades E-7, E-8 and E-9 by DA Selection Boards.

 

1 Apr

Discharge on marriage reinstated for enlisted women who completed 18 months on active duty and fulfilled all school commitments.

 

30 Jun

The Meritorious Service Medal was awarded to SGM Ellen B. Steel upon her retirement on 30 June - the first enlisted woman to receive this medal.

 

1 Jul

Social Security numbers replaced Army Service numbers.

 

22 Sep

CONARC approved addition of Personnel Specialist Course at WAC School (4 weeks) and authority to award MOS 71H20 to graduates.  Classes began in January 1970 and continued through August 1972 when all specialists training at WAC School was discontinued.

 

1970

Jan

First issue of the magazine, The WAC Journal, published by the WAC School.  Business Manager and Enlisted Adviser was SFC Joan C. Whittaker.

First Issue of the WAC Journal         Second Issue of the WAC Journal

First and Second Issue of the Women's Army Corps Journal

 

Jul

The WAC Officers Association with headquarters at the WAC Center, Fort McClellan, was renamed the WAC Association to admit NCOs in grades E-6 and above.  First NCO members were:  CSM Ellina Spyker and CSM Elizabeth Bodell.  First NCO to serve as President in 1972 was CSM Elizabeth Bodell.

 

Oct

The Army implemented the Modern Volunteer Army Program.

 

1971

The NCO Education System was first implemented with three levels of career development training (basic, advanced, senior).

 

Apr

Fort the first time Army regulations permitted pregnant women to request a waiver to remain on active duty.

 

30 Nov

The Army Chief of Staff approved enrollment of WACs in Army Drill Sergeants Schools and in the NCO Academy Programs.

 

1972

The first six women graduated from Drill Sergeants School, Fort Jackson, SC.  Distinguished Graduates were:  SFC Sylvia Dobson and SSG Ladina L. Moore.  Also graduated were:  SFCs Ada L. Mercado, Ellen F. Garvey, SSG Anita L. Daniels, SGT Vickie J. Eblen.

 

Jun

SP6 Elizabeth A. Neil was the first WAC to graduate from the 3rd Army NCO Academy at Fort Jackson, SC.

 

Jun & Jul

In preparation for a 100% expansion of the WAC and the need for troop housing and classroom space, the WAC Officer Advanced Course, Clerical Training Courses (including typing, stenography, and personnel specialist) and the WAC NCO Leadership Course were discontinued at the WAC School.

 

Sep

The 2d WAC Training Battalion and 3d WAC Training Battalion activated at the WAC Center 1 July and 27 September, respectively, for basic training with Sergeants Major Mary Lou Biggerstaff (2d WTB) and Ethel S. Frieze (3d WTB).

Women entered Army ROTC units at U.S. colleges for the first time.

 

12 Oct

The WAC Detachment, US Army Vietnam, deactivated.  Last commander was CPT Constance C. Seideman; First Sergeant was Mildred E. Duncan.

 

Dec

 

15 Dec

All E-6's phased into the Centralized Management System at Department of the Army.

Army Regulations permitted WAC personnel to command men except in combat units.

The last WAC Officer Basic Course class graduated, replaced by an 11-week WAC Officer Orientation Course.

 

1973

Feb

WAC Reception Station established at WAC Center.

 

Apr

The Army Chief of Staff approved Army fighting training (fixed wing and helicopter for women).

 

14 May

Supreme Court (Frontiero) Decision gave military women the same right as men to declare spouses and children as their dependents - retroactive 10 years.

 

Jun

 

 

 

30 Jun

 

MSG Patricia Browning became the first female Band leader of the 214th Army Band, HQ Forces Command at Fort McPherson, GA.  She was later promoted to SGM.

SGM Betty J. Benson, was the first graduate of the new Sergeant Majors Academy, Fort Bliss, TX.  The next graduates, in June 1974, were MSG Helen I. Johnston and MSG Dorothy J. Rechel.

The draft ended and women again were called upon to help fill the manpower gap.

1 Jul

Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) established to replace Continental Army Command (CONARC).

 

Aug

Discharge on marriage discontinued for all WACs.

 

1 Oct

 

9 Oct

To train additional WAC recruits, the 17th WAC Battalion was activated at Fort Jackson, SC; followed by activation of the 18th WAC Battalion on 1 July 1974; and the 5th Training Bde (WAC) on 1 July 1974 to command the two battalions.

Army Chief of Staff approved plan to expand WAC strength from 20,400 to 50,000 by the end of FY 1979.

 

1974

1 May

 

16 May

 

 

24 May

The fourteenth Army Band (WAC) and WAC Reception Station reassigned from the WAC Center to the US Army School and Training Center, Fort McClellan, Alabama.

The Army Uniform Board approved for optional purchase a mint green summer dress with jacket.  Also a black raincoat and black beret to replace the green raincoat, the overcoat and the garrison cap.  A green pantsuit was approved for testing.

Congress reduced minimum age for enlistment of women to 17 years with parental consent; 18 years without it - effective 1 April 1976.

 

30 Jun

SGM Mildred C. Kelly became the first black WAC NCO to hold the grade and position of Command Sergeant Major at a major Army headquarters - HQ, US Army Proving Ground, Aberdeen, Maryland.

 

1 Jul

Weapons familiarization on the M-16 included in WAC basic training with firing on a voluntary basis - approximately 85% volunteered to fire.

 

1975

May

A WAC NCO Dining-In and NCO Retreat Parade held to raise money for the first museum of Army women (WAC Museum - now U.S. Army Women's Museum).  The events were led by CSM Betty J. Benson, CSM Helen Johnston, CSM Elizabeth Bodell, CSM Sylvia Swinney and First Sergeant Molly Edwards.

 

2 Jun

Jennie A. Vallance was the first WAC to graduate from rotary wing flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and be appointed warrant officer junior grade.

 

30 Jun

Secretary of Defense ordered discontinuance of involuntary discharge on pregnancy and parenthood effective this date.

 

1 Jul

Defensive weapons training became mandatory in WAC basic training and in specialist courses as required.  In January 1976, it became mandatory in women officers' training courses except in the Medical Department and Chaplains' Corps.

 

14 Sep

The mint green uniform was no longer optional but became a uniform of issue to replace the green cord summer uniform; the Army green pantsuit was approved for issue.

 

Sep

WAC officers, NCOs and enlisted women assigned to Refugee Receiving Centers on Guam, at Fort Chaffee, Arizona, and Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, to house and administer immigrants from Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries - April through December 1975.

 

1 Oct

Under a new Enlisted Personnel Management System (EPMS) implemented this date:  Enlisted women, all grades, to be assigned by the career management branch that controlled their primary MOS; the NCO Education System was expanded from three to five levels; under the revised Enlisted Evaluation System, MOS Proficiency Tests were replaced by Skill Qualification Tests; the promotion system stayed the same - to E3 & 4, local control; to E5 & 6, semi-centralized DA control; to E7, 8 & 9, by DA centralized control.  The grade Specialist 7 (SP7) was abolished.

Sources: 

 

Morden, Bettie J. The Women's Army Corps, 1945-1978.  Wash DC:  Government Printing Office, 1990.

 

Treadwell, Mattie E. The Women's Army Corps.  Wash DC:  Government Printing Office, 1954.

 

 

Archival:

 

Morden, Bettie J. The History of the WAC NCO Corps (undated pamphlet) - AWM Archives