SASEBO, JAPAN - Aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82), the crew closed out Women’s History Month in celebration. On the mess decks, the women of Lassen presented a program to recognize the vital role women have played in history. Over the past century, Women’s History celebrations have expanded and in 1987 Congress designated March as Women’s History Month.
Several Lassen women spoke before the crew, reflecting on the accomplishments of women throughout history and honoring the icons of today. Master of Ceremonies, Information Systems Technician 1st Class Tamara Keith, presented a line up of speeches, biographies of influential women of history, and song performances.
Inspired by their leadership in the Navy, Logistics Specialist 1st Class Stephanie Thompson presented the life story of Jacqueline L. K. DiRosa, CMDCM (SW/AW) and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Justina Wall presented Captain Joy Hancock, one of the first women naval officers and veteran of World Wars One and Two.
Operations Specialist 2nd Class Lakiesha Thompson recited an original poem about the empowerment of women. Several Lassen women dressed in honor of past and present icons, including Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Selena, Michelle Obama, and Serena Williams. Damage Controlman Fireman Nicole Hicks performed ‘Breathe’ by Faith Hill and Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Juliana Myrtil sang ‘Waka Waka’ by Shakira.
The first woman to enlist in the Navy was Loretta Perfectus Walsh. Helping to support the efforts during World War One, Loretta enlisted as a Yeoman at the age of 18 in 1917. Today, women make up 16.3% of the military and are assigned to all aspects of service including ships, staff, construction, aviation squadrons, and now even submarines. Approximately 53,000 women are active duty Navy wide and 10,000 are reservists. 58 members of Lassen’s crew are women, 52 enlisted and 6 officers. At 19%, that gives Lassen the highest percentage of women crew members in Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) Japan, a testament to the strength women provide to military service. Lassen is assigned to Destroyer Squadron Fifteen (DESRON 15) and is currently in port Sasebo, Japan.