SAN DIEGO – The officers and crew of the dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) acknowledged the unique and distinct accomplishments of women during its Women's History Month presentation in San Diego, March 20.
Retired Command Master Chief Kathleen Hansen, who served as Pearl Harbor’s command master chief from 2001 to 2004 was the guest speaker for the event.
During her time on board, Pearl Harbor deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and earned the Battle Efficiency Award in 2003. Hansen is considered a role model for women in both the military and civilian world.
She is the only female command master chief to serve on board Pearl Harbor. In 2005, Hansen was recognized with a Girl Scout Leadership Award as one of San Diego’s “Top Ten Cool Women.”
In honor of this year’s theme “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives,” Hansen shared inspiring stories of women who have served in the armed forces.
Hansen said that from the first official records of females at sea as contract nurses for the War of 1812, women have made significant strides in their 227 years of serving in the Navy. They advanced from temporary positions during the War of 1812 to being an integral part of today's sea services, and they will continue their pioneering spirit in the 21st century.
Hansen recounted the story of Mary Walker, the first and only woman to receive the Medal of Honor in our nation’s history. Walker had joined the American Civil War disguised as a male surgeon, saving countless lives on the battle field. Her Medal of Honor was revoked when her true gender was discovered, and it took her family more than 100 years to have the award restored posthumously.
Hansen weaved her own story into the great history she shared. She spoke to the crew about the obstacles she faced while being a woman in the military. As Pearl Harbor’s command master chief, and with a crew that was almost 50% female, she continued the positive impact of celebrating women’s accomplishments and history. She said she remains a strong advocate for acknowledging the strength and unending capabilities of women.
Hansen ended her heart felt speech by empowering the women, as well as men, standing in ranks before her.
“Let’s celebrate the many accomplishments and progress women have made in the military. I never felt like I was being held back by being a woman. No one holds us back except ourselves,” said Hansen. “When one woman succeeds we all succeed. We need to continue to help and support each other, share out stories and celebrate the achievements of all women.”
Women's History Month originated in 1978, when the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a women's history week to coincide with international women's day on March 8. In 1981, in response to growing support for the week, Congress passed a joint resolution proclaiming a women's history week.
The National Women's History Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring and preserving women's history, petitioned Congress in 1987 to expand the celebration to the entire month of March. Since then, National Women's History Month has commemorated the diverse contributions women have made, and continue to make, to the nation.