Women in service

world war ii

During WWII the first all black WAC group to serve overseas was the 6888th Postal Unit in England and then France. Here Major Charity Adams reviews the troops in Birmingham England. (National Archives)

Desert Storm

African-American women served with distinction during Operation Desert Storm, as officers, noncommissioned officers, and enlisted soldiers. Of the 35,000 females who went to Desert Storm, an estimated 40 percent of them were African-Americans. According to SSG Betty Brown of the Washington, DC, Army National Guard, all of these women endured the heat and the primitive conditions: no electricity, no running water, no bathrooms, and the sanitation details (cleaning the 10 gallon trash cans that served as toilets).

An African-American woman, LT Phoebe Jeter, who headed an all-male platoon, ordered 13 Patriots fired (anti-missile missiles), destroying at least two Scuds (Iraqi surface-to-surface missiles). (15:100) Another African-American woman, CPT Cynthia Mosely, commanded Alpha Company, 24th Support Battalion Forward, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), a 100-person unit that supplied everything from fuel to water to ammunition. Her unit resupplied fuel for all of the forward brigades because it was closest to the front lines.

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Ensign Matice Wright, the Navy`s first black female naval flight officer,poses for DOD photograph.
Wright was assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 3 (VQ-3). Date: 01 MAY 1993

These women who served in the military since pre-colonial days have paved the way for new recruits and current active duty females to follow. When we look at the statistical data of African-American women entering the military, we find that Black women in FY 1993 comprised 33 percent of Army female recruits, 22 percent of Navy female recruits, 17 percent of Marine Corps female recruits and 18 percent of Air Force female recruits. (21:2-10) Today the statistics tell us that 30.3 percent of the military is African-American women; approximately 33.6 percent serve as enlisted, and 13.1 percent serve as commissioned and warrant officers.


Sgt Danyell E. Wilson, first black woman Tomb Sentinel


The following African-American females have attained the rank of general officer: currently on active duty, BG Marcelite Jorden-Harris, Director Maintenance, Headquarters United States Air Force/LG, and retired from the U.S. Army BG Clara L. Adams-Ender and BG Sherian G. Cadoria

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Major General Marcelite J. Harris