Aug. 26, 2020 —
Women’s Equality Day, celebrated nationwide on Aug. 26, commemorates the passage in 1920 of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. This year’s historic centennial celebration allows the Coast Guard the opportunity to commemorate a milestone of democracy while honoring women who have made significant marks on its history and those who are impacting its operations today.
When selecting names for its cutters, the Coast Guard has honored some of the women who paved the way for equal opportunities in the service. National security cutter namesake Dorothy Stratton was the first woman to be commissioned an officer in the Coast Guard. Fast response cutter (FRC) namesake Angela McShan was the first Black woman in the Coast Guard promoted to master chief petty officer. Margaret Norvell and Kathleen Moore, also FRC namesakes, were both lighthouse keepers employed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service, a precursor agency to the Coast Guard. Future national security cutter namesake Elizebeth Smith Friedman has been dubbed “America’s first female cryptanalyst” and is considered the founder of the modern-day Coast Guard Intelligence Program. Future FRC namesake Myrtle Hazard was the first woman to serve in an active duty status in the Coast Guard. Future FRC namesake Olivia Juliette Hooker was the first Black woman to enter the Coast Guard. Before enlisting in the Coast Guard, future FRC namesake Florence Finch served enemy-occupied Philippines and provided medicines and supplies to American POWs; she later suffered torture. Five of the service’s 175-foot coastal buoy tenders are named in honor of women who served as lighthouse keepers in the Life Saving Service, the precursor to the Coast Guard: Ida Lewis, Katherine Walker, Barbara Mabrity, Abbie Burgess and Maria Bray.
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