Women's History Month: Signaleers from the Start

By Sgt. Derrick BurnhamMay 2, 2019

Since 1775, women have been involved in the United States military. They were originally limited to the civilian fields of nursing, laundering, mending clothing and cooking. Since then, the role of women in the military has grown and evolved thanks in part to the tireless, and often selfless, acts of women.

During the Civil War, many women disguised themselves as men in order to serve in the military. It wasn't until 1917 when Loretta Walsh became the first woman to enlist officially as a woman in the U.S. military.

In 1918, the U.S. Army Signal Corps sent 223 women to France as telephone operators for the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. That legacy of women serving in the Signal Corps continues today with women serving in various roles, including leadership roles, in units such as U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, the 335th Signal Command (Tactical) (Provisional), 160th Signal Brigade, and others.

Master Sgt. Erica Dorsey, telecommunications operations chief for the 335th Signal Command (Theater) (Provisional), said, "Women's History Month serves as a remembrance of strong, intelligent, passionate women who brought change to the hearts and minds of America to pave the way for Women today. Their fight to end all forms of discrimination against all women shaped our country's history and future. Without their courage and vigilance, we would not have the opportunity to serve at a capacity in which we do today."

During March, the U.S. Army takes time to celebrate the contributions, struggles and successes of the various women during the history of the U.S. Army.

"Women's History Month to me means recognition of the courage, strength, and drive of women past and present that have done and are doing amazing history changing things," said Sgt. 1st Class Carmen Granville, the G3-7 projects noncommissioned officer with the 335th SC (T)(P) . "Women that open doors for, break ceilings for, and encourage young women and girls of today.

"Acknowledging that women today can achieve almost any goal they set for themselves because those women past and present who made and are making it attainable through hard work and perseverance."

Specialist Liz Alcantar, command driver for the 335th SC (T)(P), also recognizes the promise of continued success that comes with celebrating continuous growth from women throughout history.

"Women's History Month for me signifies remembering how far we've come and how far we can still continue to thrive and conquer. And it means celebrating the accomplishments of the many women in history who paved the way for us," said Alcantar.

Women have been breaking down barriers and reaching new achievements since the beginning of the United States military. Women in the military portray strength and determination worthy of recognition and remembrance. The women serving today in the 335th SC (T)(P) recognize the contributions of those that came before them.

Women currently serving in the 335th SC (T)(P) were inspired to join by other female servicemembers. Captain Asia Hernandez-Carr, Dorsey and Granville were inspired by family legacies in the military. Hernandez-Carr and Dorsey had female family predecessors to influence their decision, but Granville did not.

Granville said, "I come from a family of military veterans on my father's side. Every person from my family that has served has been male. I wanted to serve my country just as they have. I wanted to prove to myself that I am just as strong, smart, and capable as my father always tells me I am."

Other female servicemembers from the 335th SC (T)(P) were influenced to join in search of a greater challenge in life, such as 1st Lt. Caroline Shaw, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 335th SC (T)(P), who said, "[joining] the Army and being part of something bigger than myself was very appealing to me" after graduating college.

"Women's History Month means recognizing women all over the world who have made significant contributions to society in all different shapes and forms," said Shaw. "Whether they are politicians, professional athletes, businesswomen, leaders in our military, single moms or otherwise, these women have overcome many obstacles to get where they are today. It's important to recognize women's contributions to society around the world and have the confidence to try new things. [Women shouldn't] limit [themselves] by saying things like, 'I could never do that.'"