The first women to serve in the U.S. Navy were nurses, beginning with the “Sacred Twenty” appointed after Congress established the Navy Nurse Corps on May 13, 1908. The first large-scale enlistment of women into the Navy met clerical shortages during World War I, and the second came months before the United States entered World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Public Law 689 creating the Navy’s women reserve program on July 30, 1942, which paved the way for officer and enlisted women to enter the Navy. On Feb. 22, 1974, the Navy designated the first woman as an aviator. On March 7, 1994, the Navy issued the first orders for women to be assigned aboard a combatant ship, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). Today, women serve in every rank from seaman to admiral and in every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver.
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