PACIFIC OCEAN - USS Tortuga (LSD 46) Sailors and 31st MEU Marines celebrated women's education and empowerment with a ceremony on the mess deck of the forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship, March 31.
The ceremony recognized contributions of women that occurred before my time, and before a lot of the Sailors, said Staff Sgt. Lisa Thomas, 31st Combat Landing Battalion command managed equal opportunity (CMEO) sergeant.
Women have exhibited an ever-increasing influence and impact in the Navy. The Sacred Twenty, the Navy's first nurses, paved the way to allow women to serve as Yeomanettes, who provided clerical support during World War I. The trend continued allowing women to serve in more areas in the Armed Services when a integration bill was signed June 12, 1948. Still more opportunities open for women; the most recent accomplishment in Nov. 2011, when the first female submarine officers reported for duty.
Each year, national Women's History month develops a unified theme and honors women whose work and lives testify to that idea, said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jessi Hicks. This year's theme is "Women's Education - Women's Empowerment."
"Coming from the Philippines was hard. Education was sparse and money was sparse," said Yeoman 1st Class Bernadette Marasigan, a native of Lucena City, Quezon and guest speaker for the ceremony, "The opportunity given to us now, still astounds me, and I'm glad I have this opportunity to represent the women here on the Tortuga and in the Navy."
"Women now outnumber men in colleges nationwide," said Marasigan.
The Navy's force includes more than 54,000 women serving on active duty; making up over 17 percent of the force. Aboard Tortuga, women make up 20 percent of the ship's crew.
During the celebration, Ensign Myrian Smith and Operations Specialist 3rd Class Kimberly Carmichael presented woman who succeeded through the years as men dominated jobs and social spectrum.
"By 1932, the great depression has left 12 million people out of work in the United States. Women are discouraged from taking jobs from men, and some states even pass laws against hiring women," said Smith.
"There are a lot of great women out there," said Thomas, "it's interesting to see how these people overcame controversy."
"In 1945 the United Nations is established, and Eleanor Roosevelt is appointed as a U.S. delegate," said Carmichael.
"What did these women all have in common," asked Marasigan, "They had dreams, drive, persistence, and a willingness to sacrifice through hard work to make those dreams a reality."
The next decade promises to be an exciting one for the women in the military, as more barriers are removed and women continue to assert themselves as critical members in the defense of our nation, and achievement of our nation, said Lt. Adrienne Townsend, Tortuga's command chaplain.