History of Army Women

in the NCO Corps, 1976 - Forward

(This section is a work in progress, will be added to and modified)



First enlisted women (20) entered the US Army Military Academy Preparatory School, Fort Monmouth, NJ; 17 graduated.


1 Jan

The 14th Army Band (WAC) integrated men and women; "WAC" was dropped from the Band's title.

Women began serving the same length of overseas tour as men.


23 Jan

Women authorized to serve as members of ceremonial firing teams, funeral details and color guards.



One-hundred nineteen women entered the US Military Academy, West Point, NY (Class of 1980).


30 Sep

The end of the fiscal year changed from 30 June to 30 September throughout the Federal government.



CSM Helen J. Allen was the first woman assigned as Command Sergeant Major of an MP Training Battalion - 11th MP Battalion, Fort McClellan, AL.

CSM Helen Allen with members of the 11th MP Battalion

CSM Helen Allen with Members of the 11th MP Battalion


1 Dec

The Army women's green pantsuit was issued to women assigned  military police duties; in September 1977, the pantsuit was issued to all enlisted women.


31 Dec

The WAC Center and WAC School at Fort McClellan were deactivated.  The two WAC basic training battalions and other remaining units, were absorbed by the US Army School/Training Center & Fort McClellan.



7 Feb

The Army Chief of Staff approved common basic training program for male and female recruits.


8 Jul

First combined (male/female) class of Military Police one-station-unit training (OSUT) began at Fort McClellan (Company B, 9th OSUT Bn, Training Brigade).  On 3 October 1977, combined classes of Signal Corps one-station-unit training began at Fort Gordon, GA, 1st Signal Training Brigade.


3 Sep

Women in basic training at Fort McClellan began the common (male/female) basic training program.  On 14 October, women at Fort Jackson began the program.



For the first time, 1,500 WAC NCOs and enlisted women participated in REFORGER (Restationing of Forces to Germany) -- a NATO war games exercise conducted in Germany.  WACs were assigned combat support roles in transportation, communications, medical, and law enforcement duties.


1 Oct

The option to enlist for Army Officer Candidate School opened to women.


20 Dec

Army Combat Exclusion Policy issued.  Women could serve in any military occupational specialty or unit for which qualified, except those of Infantry, Armor, Cannon Field Artillery, Combat Engineers, and Low Altitude Air Defense units of battalion size or smaller.  Women could not serve in an MOS that involved combat duty.



Effective FY 78, the OCS Enlistment Option was open to women.


1 Feb

Women enlisting at this date incurred the same 6-year obligation as men.  After completing 3 years of active duty, must upon separation spend 3 years in the Individual Ready Reserve.


21 Feb

New Army policy allowed women to serve as members of joint honor ceremonial units at the White House or within the National Capitol Region.


5 Mar

SGT Margaret T. Hawthorne accepted for duty in the previously all-male 3d Infantry Honor Guard Battalion.  SGT Margart T. Webb, on this date, was the first woman to participate in a White House Honor Guard Ceremony.


28 Apr

Congress gave the Secretary of Defense permission to eliminate the Office of the Director WAC effective this date -- awaiting passage of law to disestablish it and the Corps.  The positions of Director and Deputy Director, WAC, were discontinued and members of the Director's office were reassigned.


1 Oct

The Women's Army green hat (w/visor) was dropped as an item of issue and replaced by the black beret.


20 Oct

Congress enacted a law, signed by President Carter, that disestablished the Office of the Director WAC, the Deputy Director WAC and the Corps as a separate corps, effective on this date.



25 Oct

U.S. military forces entered the Caribbean Island of Grenada to rescue American Citizens.  Approximately 100 women officers, NCOs and enlisted women served in intelligence, military police, transportation and communication roles.

Women in the Army QM Corps with unloading operations, Grenada

Women in the Army Quartermaster Corps, assist with

unloading operations during the Grenada Invasion



CSM Karen M. Erickson was the first woman assigned as Command Sergeant Major, 1st Personnel Command, Germany.



CSM Daisy C. Brown (African-American) was the only female command sergeant major at Fort Bragg, NC, in 1989.



6 Feb

Army and Air Force regulations as of this date permitted 6 (instead of 4) weeks for convalescent leave after childbirth.


20 Dec

U.S. Army women NCOs and enlisted women deployed to Panama with their units to assist in the overthrow the Dictator Noriega.  Almost 600 women officers, NCOs and enlisted women helped provide transportation, law enforcement, intelligence and logistical support to the combat forces.




The United States began a build up of all allied forces in Saudi Arabia (DESERT SHIELD) for action against Iraqi forces that invaded Kuwait on 2 August.



UN forces began an air attack against Iraq on 17 January followed by a ground offensive on 14 February (DESERT STORM).  Three days later, Iraq surrendered.  Over 26,000 Army women officers, NCOs and enlisted women served in DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM.  Twelve Army women died there (6 from enemy fire).  Two became prisoners of war - MAJ Rhonda Cornum, a flight surgeon and SP4 Melissa Rathbun-Nealy, a truck driver; both were released at war's end.




A Huey helicopter on a humanitarian mission in Honduras crashed, killing three female crew members - CPT Saphee Dawn, 1LT Vicki Boyd and SSG Linda W. Simonds.



14 May

Former WAACs, WACs and women in today's Army celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Women's Army Corps at the former museum at Fort McClellan, AL.



SGT Heather Lynn Johnson was the first woman to earn the silver tomb guard identification badge 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), Arlington National Cemetery, and became the first female to guard the tomb of unknowns, 22 March 1996.

Heather Lynn Johnson, First Female Sentinel - Tomb of the Unknowns          Crowd at Tomb of the Unknowns taking pictures

SGT Heather Lynn Johnson at Arlington National Cemetery



SGT Tennille Marquis, an instructor with ADFSD, 16th Quartermaster Company, U.S. Army Quartermaster Center and School, Fort Lee, VA, was selected as the First Army Times Soldier of the Year, August 2000.  She was awarded the Soldiers Medal for a heroic act of "selfless service" due to critical assistance to a victim of a wreck.  Without her assistance, there was a real possibility of loss of life.

SFC Yvonne Griffith, a Senior Instructor/Writer at the Petroleum and Water Department at Fort Lee, was selected as NCO of the Year at the U.S. Army Quartermaster and School.  She was also Distinguished Instructor in 2000, as well as a member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and a member of the Honorable Order of Saint Martin.  She was Instructor of the Year in 2001.

SGT Marquis, Army Times Soldier of the Year & SFC Griffith, NCO of the Year

CSM Johnnie M. Font, a graduate of Class 35 of the Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, TX, retired after 30 years of service while serving at the U.S. Army Quartermaster Center and School.   She served in a variety of Noncommissioned Officer leadership positions throughout her outstanding career.  CSM Font had many important assignments, both in the Continental United States (CONUS) and overseas.  Her awards and decorations included the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (third oak leaf cluster), Army Commendation Medal (second oak leaf cluster) and the Army Achievement Medal.

CSM Johnnie M. Font

CSM Johnnie M. Font



NCOs SGT Tamara C. Thurman, 25, and SSG Maudlyn A. White, 38, lost their lives on 11 September in the terrorist attack that hit the Pentagon.  Both worked in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel at the Pentagon in service to their country.

SGT Tamara C. Thurman            SSG Maudlyn A. White

SGT Tamara C. Thurman             SST Maudlyn A. White   



CSM Michele Jones became the first woman selected as command sergeant major, US Army Reserves, 28 October; she was the ninth command sergeant major of the Reserves.  Jones was also the first woman to be chosen as the senior NCO in any of the Army's components.

Command Sergeant Major Michele Jones

CSM Michele Jones




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


The U.S. Army Quartermaster Center & School.





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


Documents (1976 - 2002) - AWM Archives.





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