This Female Army Captain Collapsed On A March, And The Solders' Reaction Left Everyone Stunned

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Photo Courtesy: [SUSANNA KIM/ABC News]

Sarah Cudd was an army captain based in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Part of the training for her and her fellow soldiers was to face a very strenuous challenge. However, Sarah almost didn't pass the test after falling to her knees just a few feet from the finish line. Her companions weren't about to let her give up, and it was all videotaped. The video went viral and has been viewed more than one million times on YouTube. Servicewomen are forging new career paths for themselves and the next generation. Today, females make up about 15.6% of our military.

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Sarah Cudd Was An Army Captain Based In Fort Knox, Kentucky

Sarah Cudd attempted to complete the test in 2015 with a group of two hundred and thirty-nine candidates. Cudd's experience stood out and became an online sensation. 

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One of her Army colleagues, Captain Lloyd Mason, captured a moment of Cudd struggling to finish but receiving the support of her fellow candidates. Sarah ended up becoming a Marine.

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Expert Field Medical Badge

The Expert Field Medical Badge is a special skills badge in the United States Army that was created in 1965. The badge is awarded to U.S. military personnel and North Atlantic Treaty Organization military personnel who complete a set of qualification tests. 

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Photo Courtesy: [Spc. Jasmalyn Sihakhom/U.S. Army]
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The tests include both written and performance portions. It is one of the most difficult and prestigious Army special skill badges to earn.

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The 12-Mile Foot March Is One Of The Toughest Parts Of The Program

One of the tests that need to be completed to receive the Expert Field Medical Badge is called the 12-mile Foot March, also called the Ruck March. It must be completed in three hours or less while carrying a backpack weighing fifty pounds.

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It is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, parts of the entire program. This test seemed to push Sarah to her limit and almost kept her from receiving her badge.

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The Captain's Knees Began To Give Way And She Stumbled To The Ground

The video shows Sarah Cudd moving toward the finish line with her rifle in hand. However, her knees give out, and she falls to the ground. She was completely exhausted, but she managed to get back on her feet. 

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She took a couple more steps and collapsed again, and it wasn't looking good. To everyone's delight, the captain's fellow soldiers pulled together to cheer her on and help her.

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Shouting Their Support, They Yelled, "Get Up!"

Her fellow soldiers gathered around her and started shouting, "Get up!" and "You got it, ma'am!" Their motivation gave Sarah the determination to lean on her rifle and get back on her feet. She was unsteady, but as the soldiers continued shouting supportive comments, she managed to finish those last few steps. 

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Sarah said, "I was thinking about going home to my husband, and, of course, all my friends around me just cheering me on. They were willing me forward. I couldn't have got across the finish line without the support I had."

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She Crossed The Line In Just Under Two Hours And 47 Minutes

Sarah's determination and her fellow soldiers' support took her across the finish line. She collapsed again, but this time, her fellow soldiers were screaming with joy. She crossed the line in about two hours and forty-seven minutes. 

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Photo Courtesy: [SUSANNA KIM/ABC News]
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She and forty-five other soldiers received the Expert Field Medical Badge. She was one of fourteen women who completed the course in under three hours.

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Marine Corps Sergeant Shannon Ihrke

Then there is Marine Corps Sergeant Shannon Ihrke. She enlisted when she was nineteen years old and in college and was in a dire financial situation, which pushed her to find other options besides working full-time. Being in the Marine Corps also meant that she would be traveling the world while serving.

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She said, "Joining the Marine Corps was the best decision of my life and truly set me up for success. I'd do it again in a heartbeat." Shannon was able to climb the ranks and succeed in her posts.

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The Stigma That Comes With Being A Female Marine

Shannon worked really hard trying to climb the ladder and was eventually rewarded with a new rank: Sergeant. However, while in the Marines, she battled the stigma that comes with being a female Marine. 

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She stated that although it is hard being a female Marine, she was able to push herself. She proved that she was just as capable as the men Marines. She also said that it helped the other areas of her life.

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Ihrke Had A Secret

Shannon Ihrke had a secret that she finally revealed during an interview in 2019. She opened up about her childhood and how she always thought she was a boy. 

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She rarely identified with her feminine side and said for the first ten years of her life; she was convinced she was male. She stated that when she started modeling, she was finally able to enjoy her feminine side.

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A Man's World

Shannon stated in an interview, "I decided to research the different branches of the military, and a Marine Corps recruiter caught me on the way out from talking to an Air Force recruiter." When she was signing up for the Marines, the man didn't think she had it in her to be a Marine. 

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"The recruiter explained how tough the program is and said, 'A girl like you probably wouldn't make it through boot camp in the Marine Corps.' You walk in with a target on your back. People are looking at you, like, 'Can she keep up?'"

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Modeling Debut

After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps, she walked a fashion show runway for a friend. After her modeling debut, she started getting lots of calls, so she decided to pursue a career in the industry. 

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Shannon remembered that when she got her pictures back, she couldn't believe how feminine she looked. Her first real modeling job was with Maxim magazine, and she actually landed on the cover.

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Horse Trainer

Shannon is also a horse lover and began working with animals and horse training. She instructs kids on how to ride. She has about six horses and has been training for roping competitions. 

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In addition, she said that she collaborates with her local sheriff's department and works with horses. She said in her Inside Edition interview that she came from a "one-horse town."

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Becoming A Mom

In October 2019, Shannon started a new chapter in her life, Motherhood. She welcomed daughter Aryana River, and in June 2020, she revealed she was expecting another baby in December of that year. 

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She talked about how she still maintains fitness as a priority because she wants to be a good example for her daughter. She lives with her family in Minnesota and says that she is enjoying life at a slower pace.

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Enlisted Women

All women that enlist in the Corps are sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina for a twelve-week boot camp training. They have to pass a Physical Fitness Test and a Combat Fitness Test. 

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The training camp's mission is: "We make Marines by recruiting quality young men and women and transforming them through the foundations of rigorous basic training, our shared legacy, and a commitment to our core values, preparing them to win our nation's battles in service to the country." After graduation, the new Marines are sent to the School of Infantry to receive further training.

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Women Officers

The soldiers that want to become an officer in the Marine Corps are required to take three months of training at Officer Candidate School in Virginia. If they successfully complete that training, they will continue training at The Basic School and then move on to more training based on their specialty. 

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Women account for 4.3 percent of all Marine officers today and make up 5.1 percent of the active duty enlisted force in the Marine Corps.

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Women In The Marine Corps today

Women are constantly pushing through the barriers and paving the way for their female counterparts to follow. Women in the military continue to prove themselves every day, and more and more women are signing up. 

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The Women Marines Association was created to make sure that women's history as Marines will continue to be told and passed onto future generations of Marines. 

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1918 - The First Female Marine: Opha May Johnson

Opha May Johnson was the first woman to become a Marine on August 13, 1918. She enlisted after the Secretary of the Navy permitted women to enroll for clerical duty in the Marine Corps. 

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There were three hundred women who followed in her footsteps and embarked on this historic milestone. They took over stateside clerical responsibilities so that Marines could head overseas for combat.

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1942 - Frank Knox

In 1942, Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, authorized the Marine Corps to create a Women's Reserve and accept women applicants for commissions and enlistments. 

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It was approved by Commandant Lt. General Thomas Holcomb, and the first Director of Women Marine Reservists was Colonel Ruth Cheney Streeter. On February 13, 1943, enlistments officially opened, and Private Lucille McClarren was the first woman to enlist.

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1908 - Navy Nurse Corps

President Theodore Roosevelt signed a bill creating the United States Navy Nurse Corps on May 13, 1908. The members of the Navy Nurse Corps provided medical care to service members, military families, and other people in need around the world. 

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The first twenty women Navy nurses were known as the "Sacred 20." They were assigned only to the Navy Hospital in Washington, D.C.

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WWII - Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)

There were hundreds of women who participated in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program during World War II. The pioneer female pilots helped ferry and test military aircraft around the country. The members were officially recognized as Air Force veterans in 1977, and in 2010, they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. 

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Between 1943 and 1944, more than one thousand women flew more than sixty million miles and flew every military aircraft, including the Boeing B-17 and B-29 bombers. The program was disbanded in 1944.

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Cmdr. Maureen A. Farren

The 1990s were a brand new era for women serving in the armed forces. Women constituted fifteen percent of naval personnel fighting forces in Iraq and Kuwait during the first Gulf War. The repeal of the Combat Exclusion Law in 1994 allowed women to serve on combatant ships for the first time. 

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Cmdr. Maureen A. Farren was the first woman to command a combatant ship when she took command of the USS Mount Vernon on June 10, 1998. She commanded an amphibious dock landing ship.

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Kristine Holderied

Kristine Holderied spent ten months in Spain forecasting weather for the Navy when she became one of the five Navy students to be accepted to a graduate program. Kristine was the first woman to finish at the top of any service academy class. 

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She said, "It's a neat opportunity. I didn't expect to go back to school this soon. But it's an opportunity you can't turn down." She went on to spend a month on a student exchange program touring Germany through a language studies program, then reported to duty in Spain.

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Brig. Gen. Diana Holland

Brig. Gen. Diana Holland is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She became the first woman to serve as the West Point Commandant of Cadets. She oversees discipline and training for the academy's approximately four thousand two hundred cadets. 

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Holland previously served as a deputy commanding general with the tenth Mountain Division at Fort Drum. The first female cadets graduated from the academy in 1980.

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Joan C. Bynum

Joan C. Bynum was a Navy nurse who became the first black female to be promoted to the rank of captain in 1978. The Navy expanded the types of ships on which women could be stationed to include oilers, tenders, and other types of auxiliary ships. 

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Before that, only hospital ships had women permanently stationed on board. She was a prominent member of the United States Navy Nurse Corps.

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Maternity Uniforms Weren't Introduced Until The 1970s

In the 1970s, maternity uniforms were introduced when women were first permitted to continue serving in the military throughout and after their pregnancies. Today, all branches of the military offer pregnancy uniforms for expecting female service members. 

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Today, women have a uniform that fits and allows pregnant women and new moms to do their jobs. The new moms in the military serve our country, and they deserve respect and support like any other soldier.

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1980 - 62 Women Graduated From America's Service Academies For The First Time

The military class of 1980 broke ground by being the first to have women graduate from the U.S. Military Academy, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, and the Coast Guard Academy.

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Enrollment numbers have increased over the years, but there is still room for improvement. In 1980, sixty-two females graduated from West Point; in 2019, three hundred and three females graduated.

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WWI - Women Were Allowed To Openly Serve In The U.S. Military

World War I was the first-time women were allowed to openly serve in the United States Military. There were large numbers of American men that were being sent to war overseas, which meant that stateside replacements for the roles that were left behind. 

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Women were allowed to serve in non-commissioned officer and non-combat roles. They were called 'yeomanettes' and consisted of twelve thousand women working clerical duties and telephone and radio operators and translators.

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350,000 American Women Served In Uniform During WWII

During World War II, there were three hundred and fifty thousand American women who served in uniform. They were not allowed to fight but instead did clerical work, drove vehicles, repaired airplanes, worked in laboratories and cryptology, rigged parachutes, and test-flew planes. 

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Many women worked as nurses, with fifty-seven thousand serving in the Army Nurse Corps and eleven thousand in the Navy Nurse Corps. The nurses often worked right on the front lines and even came under enemy fire. There were four hundred and thirty-two women killed in the line of service during WWII.

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Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester

In 2005, Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester was involved in an enemy ambush on her supply convoy in Iraq. Due to her brave actions, she was awarded a military medal. In addition, she was also the first woman to ever receive the Silver Star for direct combat action since World War II. 

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The Silver Star is the third-highest military decoration for valor in combat and is primarily awarded to soldiers who showed bravery in action against an enemy of the United States.

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1994 - President Bill Clinton Rescinded The Risk Rule

President Bill Clinton rescinded the "Risk Rule" in 1994. The rule essentially allowed women to serve in all positions in the military except for direct ground combat roles. It allowed many more women to still engage in combat as aviators, Air Force personnel, sailors, and other roles. 

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Still, women are excluded from some billets to keep them out of direct combat and sometimes even prohibited from being stationed alongside combat units.

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2013 - Leon Panetta Announced Female Service Members Would Be Allowed To Serve In Direct Ground Combat Roles

In 2013, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the ban on women in combat would be lifted entirely. Women service members would be allowed to serve in direct ground combat roles. 

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It was officially put into action in 2015, and it opened up hundreds of thousands of jobs for women in the military. As long as female service members completed the necessary training and requirements, they could now serve in almost any role in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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Women On The Beat

During World War I, the first women police officers served and were called Women's Patrols. Their job was to maintain discipline and monitor women's behavior around factories or hostels. 

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In addition, they carried out inspections of women to ensure that they didn't take anything into the factories that could cause explosions. Women officers also patrolled other public areas such as streets, public houses, railway stations, and parks.

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Women's Royal Army Corps

The Women's Royal Army Corps, or WRAC, was what all women in the British Army belonged to between 1949 to 1992. The WRAC was formed in 1949, and for most of its existence, the women performed administrative and other support tasks. 

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It was the successor to the Auxiliary Territorial Service, which was founded in 1938. In 1992, it was disbanded, and the remaining women transferred to the Corps they served with.

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Private Lucy Gartshore

Private Lucy Gartshore served with 210 Battery, Royal Artillery, and then joined the Royal Logistic Corps. She said of her experience, "I refer to it as a man's world because I've found that although men mean well, they jump in instinctively and help you out. I was at my old battery for five and a half years. It was hard to get used to as you have six people on it." 

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"That includes lifting it. It weighs 1,860kg. There were a few people who had a problem with women being there, saying we're not strong enough. The lads would just watch us doing it all because some didn't think we could do it as some parts are very heavy, like the breech. Eventually, we had definitely changed the minds of the lads as they loved us on the gun and all treated us equal."

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Private Michelle Norris

In 2006, Private Michelle Norris of the Royal Army Medical Corps and her unit came under attack at Al Amarah in Iraq. Norris rescued the wounded commander of her Warrior vehicle by climbing up the side of it and dragging him to safety inside, all while under sniper fire. 

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Norris was the first woman to be awarded the Military Cross. Her commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel David Labouchere, said that she acted completely selflessly in the face of great danger and saved someone's life.

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Sergeant Chantelle Taylor

Sergeant Chantelle Taylor was on her second tour of Afghanistan in 2008 when her convoy was ambushed near Marjah. During the firefight, Taylor became the first female British soldier to kill an enemy combatant. 

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Later, Taylor stated that she chose to become a combat medic because when she was searching through the list of roles available to her as a woman, it was the only one with the word combat in it.

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Some Former Officers Remain Concerned

Even though women are proving themselves every day in the military, there are still some former officers that remain concerned. They are concerned that women will not be able to meet the same physical demands as men and, as a result, lower the overall standards of fighting units. 

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There was a year-long study involving a U.S. Marines task force to put to the test the effects of gender integration. The results showed that all-male units outperformed integrated units. It also showed that women were six times more likely than men to be injured during training.

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Chief Petty Officer Stella Sierra-Chierici

Chief Petty Officer Stella Sierra-Chierici is a jet engine mechanic on the F/A-18F Super Hornet in the Navy. She stated that not many women would get to do what she does. She often had men tell her they would not work for her because she was a woman. 

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She would respond, "That's O.K. You don't have to follow me, but I will bring you along." 

"When I was stationed in Germany, I was part of a group that wanted to use a recreation center to hold meetings for Wiccans. My letter to the editor, printed in Stars and Stripes, began a journey in which I became a representative for witches' rights in the military. I still have my dog tags, which indicate my religion as Wiccan." ----- Chief Petty Officer Stella Sierra-Chierici

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Rear Adm. Wendi Bryan Carpenter

Rear Adm. Wendi Bryan Carpenter was the first female Navy pilot to instruct in the T-44 Pegasus trainer for the advanced maritime prop pipeline. She was also one of the first female instructors in the EC-130 aircraft for the "Take Charge and Move Out" squadrons. 

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In addition, she was among the first mission commanders and maintenance check pilots. She had a lifetime of firsts, including being one of the first female aviation assignment officers, the first female naval aviator to be promoted to the rank of one-star and then two-star admiral in the Navy, and lastly, the first woman to command the Navy's Warfare Development Command.

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Tech. Sgt. Holly Ward

Tech. Sgt. Holly Ward served in the Air Force starting in 2006. She stated that she was the only woman on her team in all three of her overseas deployments. She lived separately, was left behind on major movements, often forgotten about, and asked to form up more than an hour before the male soldiers. 

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She stated that on one deployment, her team didn't tell her they were leaving the country the next day, and it was only announced in the male barracks. She ended up making the flight, but it hurt that no one told her. She decided right then that she was going to dedicate her career to fighting for better inclusion.

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Capt. Helen Perry

Captain Helen Perry served in the Army Reserve from 2016 until the present. She took company command within the Army Special Operations community, and most of the men under her command had never worked with a female soldier before. 

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She said that when she told her battalion commander that she was pregnant, he congratulated her. She said that her team was supportive and her command sergeant major told her, "Ma'am, you've changed the way I feel about women in the Army."

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Marcella Hayes

Marcella Hayes began her career in the military as an ROTC cadet at the University of Wisconsin. She graduated from Army Flight School and earned her paratrooper badge. 

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In 1979, she became the first Black female pilot in the United States military. She was the fifty-fifth woman to earn her pilot wings and was assigned to the 394th Transportation Battalion in Germany.

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Capt. Linda Bray

Captain Linda Bray was among the seven hundred women who participated in Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989. She led the 988th Military Police Company and became the first woman to command American soldiers in battle. 

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She said, "I joined the Army for the excitement, the challenge, the experience, and loyalty to my country. I haven't been let down a day." Her role forced the military to reevaluate its prohibition on women in the role.

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Pilot Nancy Harkness

Nancy Harkness learned to fly when she was just sixteen years old and earned her commercial pilot's license while in college. In 1935, she was hired by the Bureau of Air Commerce to work on its air-marking project. 

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Nancy saw the need for pilots to ferry aircraft when World War II was approaching. She found qualified women pilots and helped to create the Women's Auxillary Ferrying Squadron under her direction.

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Decorated Colonel Ruby Bradley

Ruby Bradley is one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history. She was assigned to 2nd lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps in 1934 and was then sent to the Philippines. There, her base fell under the control of the Japanese authorities, and she and her team were held captive. 

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In 1945, U.S. soldiers overtook the camp. Bradley continued her career; in 1953, she received a full-dress honor salute. She was the first woman to receive the honor both in the U.S. and internationally.

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Four Star General Ann E. Dunwoody

Ann E. Dunwoody came from a family that served in the military, and she wanted to follow her family's legacy of service. She was a commander of one of the largest commands in the Army, which employed more than sixty-nine employees throughout the U.S. and one hundred and forty-five countries. 

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She was the first woman battalion commander for the 82nd Airborne Division in 1992. She was also the first female to be promoted to four-star general in the whole U.S. Armed Forces and the first female general at Fort Braff.

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Physical Concerns

There are physical concerns with women in the military. Among active-duty female troops, motherhood accounts for fifty-eight percent of hospitalizations. 

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Studies have shown that women are twice as likely to suffer injuries. They were also found to have lower performance in basic combat tasks, and the female body is less adept at handling the increased g-forces in aviation.

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Social Concerns

There are social concerns with women in the military. There is a concern that women in the military will result in romantic relationships on the front line, which could disrupt a unit's fighting capability. The other concern is that women are at risk of being captured, tortured, and possibly sexually assaulted. 

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It has also been said that "higher rates of new PTSD diagnosis among women were not dependent on combat exposure, suggesting that other types of trauma may be responsible for increased rates among women."

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Tactical Concerns

There are tactical concerns with women in the military. However, one study showed that the group intelligence of an organization rises when women are on teams. Others have said that men have a harder time seeing women wounded or killed. 

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Others worry that a male soldier's priority will be to save the women and not to complete the mission. Enemies are usually not intimidated by women soldiers.

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