Friday, May 30, 2014


Unsung Heroes: The Story of America's Female PatriotsThis was a documentary that aired very recently on PBS. It honors women in the American military from the Revolutionary War to present-day female veterans who served in Iraq.

I learned some fascinating stuff from this one...

Margaret Corbin was a woman who followed her husband to war (Revolutionary). She helped him load the cannon and when he was hurt in duty, she took over for him completely and ended up crippled with half her face blown off. She was buried outside the chapel at West Point.

Women were in the Navy as early as WWI. The Waves were created for women to take on-shore jobs, freeing men to go to sea. Meanwhile, Hello Girls were created for the Army. It's an interesting tale here...they were actually created to work the communications because the higher-ups stationed in Europe complained the operators in France were too slow. These women had to be bilingual--speak English and French.

I knew the Army had the WACS and the WASPS. I knew about the WAVES, but I did not know the Coast Guard had its own group of women: the SPARS. Someone needs to write a novel about them. A woman CG member informs us she was on a ship with a call sign that meant "no damn women aboard". Imagine working your way around that. Matter of fact, in part two, they get more into the Coast Guard thing and it wasn't until 1977, when Jimmy Carter made it an issue, that they allowed women at sea. Even in the more modern age, the men said women on ships was bad luck. 

Nurses really paved the way for women in the military and combat situations. As the documentary states, whether a woman is actually in combat or not, she's in danger, so why have the anti-combat law in the first place. Countless women have been killed from just following in the medical corps, having their medical black hawks shot down, being in convoys, etc. And in the early days, this work--nursing--was VOLUNTARY. 

Many woman veterans are not receiving the help they need and are homeless, especially after getting out of the military where they had equal pay. It's a shock to discover they only receive 70 cents to the man's dollar in the Civilian world. Sadly, they bring children into homelessness with them.

Until recently (actually, I imagine this is still a fear), admitting you had a mental health issue could be the end of your career.
Women Marines, 1943

It wasn't until after Vietnam that women demanded and received Veteran's services.

Linda Bray was the first woman to lead troops into battle (Panama).

Part two gets into my favorite thing: the WASP and Nicole Malachowski--the USAF's first female Thunderbird--reveals the 411 on those fine ladies. I really like her. I even have her autograph from an air show. I stood there like a little kid waiting for it. LOL So I was pleased to see her on here. She talks about how she wanted to be a fighter pilot as early as five years old (so did I!) but it was illegal for women to fly combat aircraft at the time. Those restrictions were not lifted until 1991.
Nicole Malachowski

The rest of part two talks a lot about women POWs and especially the Philippine (Bataan) situation during WWII. I've read about this before, but seeing the video footage of these men and women starved...just blew my mind. I became so riveted to the screen during these stories, I failed to take notes. You'll have to watch it for yourself, ladies.

The documentary goes back and forth between modern-day women soldiers sharing their experiences from helicopter crashes to attempted rape on Arab bases to photos and video of women in WWI, II, Vietnam,'s worth your time. I feel it also serves as a superb reminder to all...that women secured your freedom too. Honor those ladies, always.

Watch for this one on your local PBS station or buy the DVD.

No comments:

Post a Comment