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Face of Defense: Military Community Loses Pioneer

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2010 – The first woman appointed to the rank of major general in the Air Force and the Department of Defense died Feb. 15.

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Retired Maj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm, the first woman to serve as major general in the Air Force and the Department of Defense, passed away Feb. 15. Holm is credited as the single driving force in achieving parity for military women and making them a viable part of the mainstream military. U.S. Air Force photo
  

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Retired Maj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm was a driving force in achieving parity for military women and making them a viable part of the mainstream military.

The Portland, Ore., native attained the rank of two-star general in 1973 after a career that began 31 years earlier in 1942 when she enlisted in the Army. Holm entered Women's Army Air Corps in January 1943, where she received a commission as third officer, the WAAC equivalent of second lieutenant.

Holm also became the first woman to attend the Air Command and Staff School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 1952.

She was promoted to brigadier general July 16, 1971, the first female airman to be appointed in this grade. She was promoted to the grade of major general effective June 1, 1973, with date of rank July 1, 1970 - the first woman in the armed forces to serve in that grade.

In recognition of Holm's pioneering career, Air Force officials renamed the Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., the Jeanne M. Holm Officer Accession and Citizen Development Center in June 2008. Its mission is Air Force officer recruitment and training within the Air University.

Holm also authored two books about women in the military. "Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution" was published in 1982 and was updated in 1994. Four years later she wrote "In Defense of a Nation: Servicewomen in World War II."

During World War II, Holm was assigned to the Women's Army Corps Training Center at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., where she commanded a basic training company and then a training regiment. At the end of the war, she commanded the 106th WAC Hospital Company at Newton D. Baker General Hospital, W.Va. She then left active military duty in 1946.

In October 1948 during the Berlin crisis, Holm was recalled to active duty with the Army and went to Camp Lee, Va., as a company commander. The following year she transferred to the Air Force, when a new law integrated women in the regular armed forces.

Holm served in a variety of personnel assignments, including director of Women in the Air Force from 1965 to 1973. She played a significant role in eliminating restrictions on numbers of women serving in all ranks, expanding job and duty station assignments for women, opening ROTC and service academies to women, and changing the policies on the status of women in the armed forces. During her tenure, policies affecting women were updated, WAF strength was more than doubled, job and assignment opportunities expanded, and uniforms modernized.

Holm retired in 1975. She served three presidential administrations: special assistant on women for President Gerald Ford, policy consultant for President Jimmy Carter, and first chairperson of the Veterans Administration's Committee on Women Veterans for President Ronald Reagan.

(Article courtesy of Air Force News Service.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRetired Maj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm, right, shakes hands with retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Anna Der-Vartanian during a Memorial Day ceremony held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., May 26, 2008. Der-Vartanian, who entered the military in 1943, one year after Holm, became the Navy’s first woman master chief petty officer, the highest enlisted grade. DoD photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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