Lieutenant Commander Holly R. Harrison

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War: Iraq War, 2003-2011

Branch: Coast Guard

Unit: USCGC Aquidneck (WPB 1309); USCGC Kiska (WPB 1336); USCGC Storis (WMEC 38)
Service Location: Manama, Bahrain; Khawr Abd Allah River; Al Faw Peninsula; Khawr Al Amaya; Mina Al Baker Oil Terminals; Kodiak, Alaska; Hilo, Hawaii; Washington, DC; Yorktown, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina

Lieutenant Commander Holly Harrison is the first woman in the United States Coast Guard to earn the Bronze Star. In charge of the 110 ft. cutter Aquidneck during Operation Iraqi Freedom, she and her small crew patrolled the Khawr Abd Allah waterway separating Iraq and Kuwait. In addition to providing protection and assistance to other US vessels, they searched and boarded everything on the river to ensure that embargoed oil, terrorists, or weapons were not getting through. This was all the while navigating waters that were poorly charted, often treacherously shallow, and frequently mined. Harrison became executive officer of the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy after her return from the Persian Gulf.

We honor you, Holly Harrison.

(#Repost @http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.46660/)

 

 

CAPT Dorothy Stratton

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In 1942 Stratton took a leave of absence from Purdue University and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Naval Reserve, which was also known as the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). She later credited Lillian Moller Gilbreth, professor of engineering at Purdue, for encouraging her to join the military, but she also recalled that she was willing “to do whatever I could to serve my country” and did not need much encouragement. Stratton was among the members of the first class of the U.S. Naval Training Station at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. After completing her initial training, she briefly served as Assistant to the Commanding Officer of the radio school for WAVES at Madison, Wisconsin.

In November 1942, after Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an amendment to Public Law 773 to create a women’s reserve for the U.S. Coast Guard, Stratton became the first woman to be accepted into the new program. She was immediately transferred from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Coast Guard and was sent to the office of the Commandant of the Coast Guard in Washington, D.C. to organize the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve. Stratton was appointed the first director of the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander, and became the first woman commissioned an officer in U.S. Coast Guard. She rose through the ranks and in February 1944 promoted to the rank of captain.

Stratton developed Coast Guard Women’s Reserve program and gave it the name of SPAR, an acronym created from the Coast Guard motto, Semper Paratus, and its English translation, Always Ready. As director of the SPARs, a position that Stratton held until 1946, her primary role was to originate policies for SPARs that related to procurement, training, utilization, and maintenance of its members’ morale. She oversaw significant growth in the program. More than 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 commissioned officers served as SPARs in the remaining years of the war.

Stratton retired from the military in January 1946. By June 30, 1946, the SPARS were demobilized. Stratton remained proud of the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard used the highest percentage of women of any of the military branch of services during the war.

We honor you, Dorothy Stratton.

(#Repost @Wikipedia)

CAPT Eleanor L’Ecuyer

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Frustrated by her clerical work as a civilian in 1944, Eleanor C. L’Ecuyer volunteered to join the Coast Guard in Boston, in the midst of her workday at Boston Edison Company.

“I went for a walk at the suggestion of my boss and came back a member of the Coast Guard,” she said beaming, some seven decades later.

L’Ecuyer, 90, served as a pharmacist’s mate at Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, Wash., until her discharge in 1946. While many women made their personal marks upon the Coast Guard, L’Ecuyer, an articulate gal with a sharp wit, forever impacted policies and increased opportunities for women serving in the Coast Guard.

Following her discharge after the war, L’Ecuyer returned to Boston, activating her G.I. Bill benefits and earning a law degree at Suffolk University. But finding employment as a female attorney proved challenging against the backdrop of 1950. Marriage and birthrates were increasing in post-war America. A postage stamp cost $.03, a dozen eggs $.65, the average household income was $3, 216 and the average home cost $14, 500. While nearly one million women entered the workforce each year, most found employment in the clerical field.

A few months passed while the venerable L’Ecuyer took a slew of physical exams. Ironically, on Apr. 1, 1951, she received two letters bearing good news.

“First I learned I’d passed the Coast Guard test,” she said. “Later that day, I learned I’d passed the Massachusetts Bar.”

Ensign L’Ecuyer was told she’d received a commission, but women could not attend Officer Candidate School. “Eventually, someone realized I was a lawyer, and I was promoted to lieutenant junior grade,” she said.

Assigned to Washington, D.C., she became the first female attorney hired by the United States Coast Guard, though she did not directly serve in that role. Her legal training would serve her – and future generations of female Coasties – very well. She wrote successful challenges to several policies that would increase career potential for women in the Coast Guard. One was her determination that being pregnant was not a disabling condition and therefore, should not be grounds for discharging women. Another was that couples should be allowed to co-locate. Another challenge she filed questioned the policy limiting women to serving only 20 years.

“After that one, the commandant asked if I had any other paperwork I might want to follow,” said L’Ecuyer, smiling.

She served until 1971, rising to the rank of captain – the highest rank a woman could achieve at the time. She also holds the distinction of being the longest serving SPAR. Yet, when asked if she realized how her determinations had impacted future generations, she turned reflective.

“It was the right thing to do, and the time had come” she said. “I put my law degree to good use.”

We honor you, Eleanor L’Ecuyer.

(#Repost @Coast Guard Compass)

CDR Janna Lambine

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In the majority of cases, to be the first at something requires a courage, tenacity, and initiative of unusual strength. This can certainly be said of Janna Lambine. As the Coast Guard’s first woman pilot, her actions set an important precedent for women in the military and the workforce. When Lambine attended the Coast Guard Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, Virginia in the 1970’s  women were just being integrated into the organization. Public pressures for female inclusion as well as lobbying from women within the organization like Vivien Crea (who would later become a Coast Guard Vice Admiral) contributed in turning the tide toward the acceptance of women in the aviation field. Admiral James Gracey, Commandant of the Coast Guard, was on their side too, believing that 51 percent of America’s population should no longer be prevented from contributing whatever talents they might have to the field of aviation.

For Lambine, who had applied for flight training while in OCS, the call that would change her life came abruptly.  Vivien Crea, who had also applied for aviation training and would be right behind Lambine as the second woman to enter flight school, recalled a phone conversation which was likely similar to the one Lambine received; “I suddenly got this frantic phone call while up at the Coast Guard Academy, ‘Get your physical updated; women are going to be considered this time!’”

Consequently, Lambine graduated from Naval Aviation Training at the Whiting Field Naval Air Station in Milton, Florida on March 4, 1977 and her first assignment was piloting helicopters at Air Station Astoria in Oregon. There, her duties included flying search and rescue missions and pollution/fisheries surveillance. She retired as a Commander from the Coast Guard Reserve in 2000.

Lambine’s initial steps through the barrier separating the sexes in the field of Coast Guard aviation has been followed by many outstanding women aviators who, while forging their own paths, continue to set an example for the women who follow in their footsteps.

We honor you, Janna Lambine .

(#Repost @FlyGirls)

SM 1 Douglas Albert Munro

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Of the 3,498 Medal of Honor recipients in American history, only one was from the U.S. Coast Guard: Signalman 1st Class Douglas Albert Munro. On this day 74 years ago, Munro sacrificed himself at the Matanikau River at Point Cruz in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, while saving hundreds of his fellow service members.

In recognition, Munro was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his “extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty.” Munro remains the only member of the Coast Guard to earn this distinction.

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Munro grew up in South Cle Elum, Washington. He enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1939. Upon hearing that the Coast Guard had been ordered to man transport vessels in the Pacific during World War II, Munro pleaded with his executive officer to allow him to transfer to this mission. He was eventually successful and was assigned to transport duty supporting Marine landings at Guadalcanal during the Solomon Islands campaign.

On Sept. 27, 1942, nearly 500 Marines were tasked with crossing the Matanikau River at Point Cruz at Guadalcanal. However, the Marines faced imminent danger at the hands of a larger and more heavily armed than anticipated Japanese force.

Munro volunteered to lead the evacuation mission as the Marines were pinned in a vulnerable position by advancing Japanese forces. Munro led a group of small boats charged with protecting 24 Higgins landing craft that were attempting to extract the Marines.

As machine gun fire from the land continued, Munro positioned his Coast Guard craft between the Japanese and the Higgins boats to provide cover for the evacuation. Armed with only two small guns on his plywood boat, Munro successfully held off the Japanese attack, enabling nearly 500 Marines, including 25 wounded, to escape.

As the last Marines were safely under way and while turning back to rescue a grounded Higgins boat, Munro was fatally wounded. Still thinking of those Marines he was charged to protect, his final words were: “Did they get off?”

Munro exemplified the honor, valor, and patriotism that United States Coast Guard service men and women display in defending our nation’s waters. In honoring Munro, we recognize the Coast Guard’s vital role in protecting America’s maritime security.

Munro embodied the Coast Guard’s motto, semper paratus (“always ready”), in his heroic, decisive actions in Guadalcanal. Recognizing the crucial security the Coast Guard provides our nation, Congress and the president should strive to ensure this sea service remains always ready.

We honor you, Douglas Munro.

(#Repost @the Daily Signal)