The commanding officer of Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point called women trailblazers who overcame barriers to serve their country.
Captain Angela S. Nimmo was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Salute to Women in the Military: Past and Present.
The event was held in the Havelock Tourist and Event Center and attended by more than 100 women and others from all branches of the military.
Nimmo gave a brief history of women who in many cases, impersonated men in order to gain the chance to serve.
It wasn’t until World War II that women began to truly be accepted by the armed services.
“You think about the posters that we used for recruiting in World War II, said Nimmo. “They portrayed strong, independent, patriotic women ready and willing to serve their country. They chose women as role models and trail blazers and they were. During World War II we performed duties across the United States and overseas, in the air, on the ground and aboard ships. We served as nurses, postal clerks, intelligence analysts, communications specialists, truck drivers, telephone operations, linguists, pilots, and more.”
Over 80 women were held as prisoners of war in the Pacific Theater, Nimmo said.
“By the end of the world women served in all service branches across the globe. They overcame the barriers placed before them and proved that they were trailblazers,” she said.
Muliple generations of women attended the event. Some served as early as World War II and others are currently serving.
“I think it’s awesome because what it represents is the respect that we’re giving to women,” said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Taylor Salazar, who held the American flag as part of the color guard at the event.
Salazar is from the Naval Clinic at Cherry Point.
“Men deserve it too, of course, but it’s a little hard in a male dominated field, so for them to recognize that we have decided to step for that is nice. To be a part of it is even better,” said Salazar. “It shows that even in simple tasks in the military, women do it to, when it comes down to an honor guard detail.”
Navy Seaman Kara Shelts, was also in the color guard.
“I think it’s awesome to be here today because we are seeing all of our past military as well as our present and we have some amazing women here,” said Shelts. “They are who we look up to and hopefully some day we can have others look up to us as well in the military.”
Colly Beck, of Havelock, a former member of the Air Force, reunited with old friends and made new ones.
“I enjoy meeting the other women that have been in the service, past and present,” said Beck. “I have met people from the Army, the Air Force, the Navy. I just enjoy the recognition of the women veterans.”
“I had a lot of duty stations and met a lot of wonderful people and had no problems at all,” said veteran Dolores Hamrick. “I met my husband in Hawaii and then we were married in Hawaii. I have three children and they have all done well. My daughter was in the Army and then she became a Navy nurse. My youngest son joined the Navy and then became a helicopter pilot. My oldest son was in the air Force and he was a navigator. Both my boys are retired now. “
Hamrick's daughter, Susie Hamrick, attended the event with her mother.
“It is really interesting to be able to see the numbers that were in before my time,” said Hamrick. “I was in the 80s and 90s, but seeing service members, veterans like my mother, is really interesting and I’m so glad that she has this entity to cause them to be cohesive and to reminisce and she can guide other younger people. I would say that there have been a lot of improvements, but we still have a long way to go.”
Kitty Pierre, of Havelock, was in the Marine Corps and served during the Korean War.
“Now they can go to combat, where we couldn’t” said Pierre. “They didn’t take women in combat before and that was one thing I wish I have could have gone to Korea, but we were the Lady Leathernecks here and we were here to make things right so our boys could come home again. It has changed considerably, but I figure we paved the way for today’s generation.”
Staff Sgt. Taisha Lockhart, of the 18th Airborne Corps, from Fort Bragg, was chosen to attend after being nominated by her unit.
“I didn’t even know it existed, so this was awesome,” Lockhart said of the event. “At Fort Bragg I don’t ever see Marines, so sitting next to the Marines and the Navy and actually getting a chance to talk about Cherry Point and what their MOS is and what they actually do is interesting.”