Women veterans are the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population and have been serving in the Armed Forces since the Civil War. With Memorial Day, it's only right to recognize a few of the women who dedicated their lives to serving their country, some of them making the ultimate sacrifice.
Corporal Jessica Ellis
Born in 1983 Cpl. Jessica Ellis grew up in Central Oregon. She was avid in high school sports, participating in cross-country and the swim team. She enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2004 as a medic and two years later was deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team,101st Airborne Division. She deployed again to Iraq in October 2007 and was affectionately referred to as "Doc Ellis."
She was killed on Mother's Day in 2008 while serving as a medic to a team of combat engineers in Baghdad when her vehicle was struck by an Explosively Formed Penetrator. She was 24 years old and was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Piestewa, who was a private first class at the time, was the first Native American female in history to die in combat while serving in the U.S. military. She was also the first female to be killed during the Iraq War. On March 23, 2003, 23-year-old Piestewa was in Iraq with the 507th Maintenance Company. She was killed when her Humvee was ambushed. She was awarded the Purple Heart and Prisoner of War Medal.
Rr. Admr. Grace Hopper, also known as "Amazing Grace" was born on December 9, 1906. She retired at 79 years old in 1986 as the oldest commissioned officer on active duty. She served 43 years in the United States Navy.
First Lieutenant Ashley White was one of the first females to serve with a special operations Cultural Support Team, created in 2010 to work with local Afghan citizens. At the time of her death in 2011, when women were still officially banned from combat, serving with a CST meant White was one of a select number of females serving in a combat capacity. She was the first member of a CST to be killed in action.
Rainey was the Navy's first female aviator. She received her wings at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas on February 22, 1974, and was instrumental in opening the path to aviation for females in the Navy. In 1982, Rainey was flying as an instructor in a T-34C Mentor when she was forced into a maneuver to avoid crashing into another aircraft. Both she and her student were killed in the resulting crash.