Military Trailblazers

Saluting Colorado women’s accomplishments for and with the military

WASPsColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Military service hasn’t always been an option for women in the U.S. Since World War II, Colorado women have participated in a myriad of ways with the U.S. military. In this exhibit we discover how women in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame served our country and the armed forces.

Loretta FordColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Loretta Ford enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942 hoping to enter flight nurse training. Instead, she served in hospitals stateside and after the war pursued her education in nursing under the G.I. Bill. In 1965, she co-founded the pediatric nurse practitioner program at the University of Colorado, the first nurse practitioner program in the U.S.

Kay KeatingColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Katherine Keating (Kay) enlisted in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service – the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Navy) in 1942 to play her part in the World War II effort. During her 30-year career, she would also serve during the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict. Keating was the first woman in the Navy to rise from Seaman Recruit to Captain (the highest rank in the Medical Service Corps in which she served), only the second female pharmacy officer, the first woman pharmacist to attain the rank of captain, the first woman in the Medical Service Corps to go to sea, and the first woman officer to replace a male officer at sea.

Oleta CrainColorado Women's Hall of Fame

One of only three African-American women to enter officer training in the U.S. military in 1943, Oleta Crain initially served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. The only black woman retained by the U.S. military after World War II, she retired from the Air Force as a major. A lifelong advocate for women and people of color, after her retirement from the Air Force, she served as a regional administrator for the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Fannie DuncanColorado Women's Hall of Fame

During World War II, Fannie Mae Duncan ran the Haven Club, a soda fountain for black soldiers stationed at Fort Carson. She also operated a USO concession in Colorado Springs. After the War, Duncan founded the integrated Cotton Club, a jazz mecca in Colorado Springs.

Elizabeth Wright IngrahamColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Elizabeth Wright Ingraham wanted to be an architect as a child. She worked as a draftsman for the U.S. Navy during World War II. She and her husband moved to Colorado Springs where they established an architectural firm. She designed more than 100 buildings in Colorado and was a champion of environmentally responsible design.

Jane Silvertein RiesColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The first female licensed professional landscape architect in Colorado, Jane Silvertstein Ries served in the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II. Ending the war with the rank of lieutenant, she worked as a landscape architect in a New York firm before returning to Denver. She designed plantings for many projects including the Herb and Scripture Gardens at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Virginia LincolnColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The daughter of a Major General and the sister of a Major General, J. Virginia Lincoln pursued a career in solar-terrestrial physics. The method she developed for predicting sunspots is still in use today.

Mamie Dowd EisenhowerColorado Women's Hall of Fame

First Lady and Army wife, Mamie Eisenhower supported many causes including the American Heart Association and affordable housing and health care for Army widows. She was a gracious hostess whose sense of style was widely praised and emulated.

Rhea WoltmanColorado Women's Hall of Fame

One of the Mercury 13, the 13 women who trained to be astronauts early in NASA’s history, Rhea Woltman always wanted to fly. In the early 1970s, Woltman performed glider training and towing for U.S. Air Force Academy cadets in Colorado Springs.

Carol Mutter by Wikipedia - public domainColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The first woman in the U.S. Armed Forces to achieve the rank of three-star general (Lieutenant General), Carol Mutter was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 1967 upon her college graduation. During her more than 30-year career in the Marine Corps, she became the first woman promoted to the rank of Major General within that branch of the service.

Penny HamiltonColorado Women's Hall of Fame

“Penny the Pilot” Hamilton was a dental hygienist and an Army wife before taking up flying. She now dedicates herself to encouraging women to pursue flying and STEM careers, writing, and educating children about aviation.

Joanne MaguireColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The first female officer at Lockheed Martin Corporation, Joanne Maguire’s responsibilities included development and production of satellites and strategic and missile defense systems, among others. Her clients included national security, civil and commercial customers.

Susan HelmsColorado Women's Hall of Fame

A member of the first class of women to be admitted to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Susan Helms retired from a more than 30-year Air Force career that included her being promoted to Lieutenant General and serving as an astronaut. Helms flew on five Space Shuttle missions and conducted the longest spacewalk for a female astronaut. Before retiring from the Air Force, Helms served as first female Commander of both the 14th Air Force, USAF Space Command, and Joint Forces Component Command-Space, US Strategic Command.

Credits: Story

Curator: Jill S. Tietjen, P.E. co-author of Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America and Hollywood: Her Story, An Illustrated History of Women and the Movies. An inductee into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and the Colorado Authors’ Hall of Fame.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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