Small steps led to great leaps for Women's History

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Emerald Ralston
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
When we in the Air Force think of Women's History Month, we generally tend to think of the obvious pioneers in aviation such as Amelia Earhart, the Women's Air Corps and the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and the first female pilots. But what about those who made it possible for even them to break the ground they did? 

While there were many influential women in the Army Air Corps and beginning of the Air Force as a separate service, women being recognized for their military service in America dates all the way back to the revolutionary war. 

Margaret Corbin not only fought alongside her husband on the New England country side, but was the first female to receive a military pension for wounds and disabilities sustained in combat. While her husband assisted a gunner, the gunner was shot on the battle grounds of New York, forcing her husband to take over the weapon, and then she assisted him. Her husband was subsequently killed as well, and without a moment's hesitation, Margaret Corbin stepped up to the challenge, taking over the cannon and firing until she too was hit by enemy fire. 

Margaret Corbin gave up use of her left arm and received a severely disfigured face for the rest of her life to serve her country. She was awarded a pension from the government to the tune of half the pay and allowances of a soldier in service. She also continued to be included on muster lists until the end of the war, in 1783. 

Centuries after she gave up so much for her country, her remains are honored at a cemetery at West Point, with a statue and plaque honoring her as 'the first American woman to take a soldier's part in the War for Liberty'. 

Without the sacrifices and bravery of women like Margaret Corbin, the path to women's rights and role in the military could have been a much different fight. So this month, Women's History Month, take time to reflect on those who sacrificed so women could move forward in the military and the country.