Unsung Heros

Against All Odds

The Against all Odds Educational lesson/theme brings the entire service of women in the military full circle. The theme reintroduces the full spectrum of women who have served on land, at sea and in the air. Case in point, the first woman awarded the Silver Star for combat actions, one of the first female SPAR, one of the first WASP, the first African American female attack helicopter pilot and a Marine Command Sergeant Major will share their pride in service. The college curriculum associated with this theme will introduce academic tools and readings that will offer more detail with reference to the World War II recruiting campaigns of each service; the slander campaigns directed towards servicewomen; the social challenges military women faced such as dating and marriage, and the unique challenges of African American women and female officers. Additionally, the Congressional debates of the early 1990s resulting in the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which led to increased women’s roles in the military in the late 1990s and the new millennium, will be examined.

Francoise Bonnell, Ph.D., Director, U.S. Army Women’s Museum, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Army, (Ret)
Francoise Bonnell, Ph.D., is the director of the U.S. Army Women's Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia. She is an author and a recognized authority in women’s military history.
Vernice Armour, Former Captain, U.S. Marine Corps
Marine Captain Vernice Armour became the first black female combat helicopter pilot. She served two tours piloting an AH-1W Super Cobra in Iraq. The decorated veteran now works as a motivational speaker, consultant and coach.
Laura Brown, Sergeant Major, U.S. Marine Corps
Sergeant Major Laura Brown is the first female Base Sergeant Major in the history of Quantico Marine Corps base. She also served in Iraq, supporting combat troops, and was responsible for the Fallen Angels program.
Dorothy Dempsey, Former Chief Petty Officer, U.S. Coast Guard
Boatswain's Mate First Class Dorothy Dempsey served in the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS) during World War II. She was responsible for security at Boston Harbor and helped pave the way for future women in the military.
Deanie Parrish, Women’s Airforce Service Pilots
Deanie Parrish served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. She logged hundreds of hours of flight time in numerous aircraft and made it her mission to convince Congress to award the long-neglected WASP the Congressional Gold Medal.
Denise Jelinski-Hall, Chief Master Sergeant, National Guard Bureau
Chief Master Sergeant Denise M. Jelinski-Hall was the Senior Enlisted Leader to the Chief National Guard Bureau. Before retiring in 2013 she was responsible for advising senior leadership on all matters related to enlisted personnel.
Leigh Ann Hester, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester served in the Army National Guard and became the first woman to receive the Silver Star for valor since World War II. In Iraq she ran toward the enemy trench line and engaged in a 45-minute firefight.
Latianna Wilson, Former Sergeant, U.S. Army
Sergeant Latianna Wilson is a Wounded Warrior who served two tours of duty in Iraq. She is a tireless and outspoken advocate for the rights of wounded veterans and those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).
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