News: Fort Bliss celebrates women
Story by Sgt. Robert Larson
FORT BLISS, Texas - Women have served with or in the United States Army since the Revolutionary War. They nursed the ill and wounded, laundered and mended clothing, and cooked for the troops in camp. During World War II, women became more involved when the War Department established the Women’s Army Corps.
On March 19, 4th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division sponsored the annual Women’s History Month observance ceremony at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center.
This year’s event honored those women of character, courage, and commitment that often go unrecognized.
“They have demonstrated their character, courage, and commitment as mothers, educators, institution builders, business, labor, political and community leaders, relief workers, religious leaders, and CEOs,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Anderson, deputy commander of 4th ABCT. “Their lives and their work inspire girls and women to achieve their full potential and encourage boys and men to respect the diversity and depth of women’s experience.”
Guest speaker, Dr. Patricia Witherspoon, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso, spoke about the impact women have had on our nation’s history, focusing on those women who have surpassed expectations and became pioneers in a male-dominated Army.
“They are role models for all women, not just those in the armed services,” said Witherspoon.
Witherspoon talked about key dates and individuals who have changed the role that women command in today’s modern Army over the last 30 years. She concluded her speech with a story about her mother and her time working to support the war effort during World War II.
“She changed her name during the war, because others told her it sounded to German,” Witherspoon said. “I didn’t know until after she had died. That is how much she loved her work and this country.”
Witherspoon said she saw the event as an opportunity for everyone to see the contributions that women have made in our society and throughout the world. She wanted focus on women in the military, because when she was growing up in Austin, Texas, the history books had little or no information on the topic.
Master Sgt. Hermania Bell, the sexual assault response coordinator for 15th Sustainment Brigade, attended the ceremony and was impressed with the history provided by Witherspoon.
“You really don’t think that [senior Army women] are out there. When you hear about them and what they have done, it’s great,” said Bell.
Bell said, she liked that there were so many young soldiers present to hear Witherspoon’s speech.
The majority of those in attendance at the ceremony were male soldiers. Second Lt. Loc Quach, assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 4th ABCT said, that he was surprised at the number of high-ranking female soldiers mentioned in Witherspoon’s comments.
“I had no idea we had so many at that high a level,” said Quach. “The only part I knew about was the women’s involvement during WWII.”
A letter signed by Gen. Raymond Odierno, the United States Army chief of staff, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler and John McHugh, the secretary of the Army, states:
“Women have achieved incredible progress that seemed unimaginable not so long ago in American history. They persevered through social and cultural challenges and overcame past legal restraints to create a new legacy of achievement for generations that followed. They opened doors and breached barriers, and they inspired those who witnessed their character, their courage and their commitment.”