As women go to sea and take to the skies in ever-increasing numbers in the modern U. S. Navy, the contributions of those pioneers who led the way loom larger than ever. This is the first scholarly history to cover comprehensively the full spectrum of women in the Navy, including the Navy Nurse Corps, the early Yeoman (F) program, the Waves, and the ultimate integration of women into the operational Navy. Commissioned to write this monumental work by the Naval Historical Center, Susan Godson took full advantage of the Navy's massive documentary archives to reinforce what she learned through dozens of interviews. She recounts not only what these adventuresome women did, but why they did it. Included are the little-known exploits of the first documented Navy "nurses, " Mary Allen and Mary Marshall, who in the spring of 1813 ran a British blockade in the frigate United States; the legendary Lucy Brewer, who served on "Old Ironsides; " and Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the first of thousands of Yeomen who served in World War I.
The author paints a distressing but inspiring picture of the many obstacles faced and conquered by the women who dared to challenge not only the status quo but the formidable barriers created by the myopic, sometimes hostile, vision of their many opponents of both sexes. This timely account traces the long struggle from serving in "women's-work" jobs to command billets -- a narrative of triumphs and failures, joy and frustration, service and sacrifice. From a hospital ship in the Civil War to combatants in the Cold War and beyond, women have left their mark in "this man's Navy, " and this is their story.