Five of the most badass women in every branch of the military

In 1975, The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, which had been proclaimed the International Women’s Year. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as an official UN holiday for women’s rights and world peace.[31] Since then, the UN and much of the world, have commemorated the date with each year’s observance centered on a particular theme or issue within women’s rights.

This year, the theme is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world on the way to the Generation Equality Forum.”

We’re not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds cool. We’re happy to see more women in leadership roles.

But we may be most proud of the badass women who have demonstrably kicked butt while wearing the uniform of our nation. Herewith, courtesy of are five of the most amazing female veterans.

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester – Army

We first reported on Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester of the 617th Military Police Company here.

Hester was the first woman to receive the Silver Star since World War II for exceptional valor. In 2005, Hester’s squad was shadowing a supply convoy when anti-Iraqi fighters ambushed the convoy. Her squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route.

Per, Hester led her team through the “kill zone” and into a flanking position, where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 grenade-launcher rounds. She and Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein, her squad leader, then cleared two trenches, at which time she killed three insurgents with her rifle. When the fight was over, 27 insurgents were dead, six were wounded, and one was captured.

Of her Silver Star Hester said, “It really doesn’t have anything to do with being a female. It’s about the duties I performed that day as a soldier.”

First Lt. Marina A. Hierl – Marine Corps

Marina A. Hierl made history in September 2017 when she became the first woman to graduate from the Marine Corps’ backbreaking Infantry Officer Course.

Hierl started her career in the fleet as a platoon commander with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, and eventually ended up as the assistant operations officer for 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, before going on terminal leave in February 2020.

Raised in Pennsylvania where she worked on a horse farm, Hierl said she decided to join the Corps after she was steered into college at University of Southern California.

“I wanted to lead a platoon,” she said. “I didn’t think there was anything better in the Marine Corps I could do.”

Merryl Tengesdal – Air Force

Air Force Col. Merryl Tengesdal started out in the Navy flying helicopters, and she and then became the first African-American woman to fly the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane.

To do that, Tengesdal made a rare cross-rate move to the Air Force. After teaching a joint flight program, in 2004 she qualified to fly one of the Dragon lady, one of the most difficult aircraft to fly, cruising at 70,000 feet.

Tengesdal has flown missions for Operation Olive Harvest in Afghanistan and Iraq, and helped combat piracy in the Horn of Africa. She has more than 3,400 flight hours and more than 330 combat hours.

Sara Faulkner – Coast Guard

Faulkner was the first female Coast Guard rescue swimmer to remain a Coastie all the way.

Faulkner was a champion swimmer who rescued 48 people during Hurricane Katrina. Rough seas and death-defying rescues were nothing compared to the constant sexual harassment she faced.

After she filed sexual-harassment charges, her command referred her for a psychiatric evaluation, and then offered her a transfer to another command with no rescue swimmers.

Faulkner would have quit altogether had not a command master chief told her how important she was and that she was a role model for women.

Camella J. Jones – Navy

Navy Constructionman Camella J. Jones was the first woman to qualify as a heavy equipment operator and assigned to a U.S. Navy Construction Battalion (Seabee) unit in 1972.

At the time, Camella was barred from taking part in the “We Fight” portion of the “We Build, We Fight” motto since she was a woman and not allowed in combat.

The rule was changed with the National Defense Authorization Act of 1994, when women were first allowed to be members of Mobile Construction Units. But she definitely blazed the trail for others to follow.

Today, help us celebrate and honor our strong American women!