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Women of BMT


June 12, 1948: The Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, signed into law by President Harry Truman, gave women permanent status in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

President Truman signing the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, 1948
No longer would special women's "components," be formed during military emergencies for the duration only. Women in all the services were members of the Regular Armed Forces and the Reserves, subject to military authority and regulations and entitled to veterans benefits. However, the act placed a 2 percent ceiling on the number of women in each of the services, restricted promotions to one full colonel or Navy captain as Chief of the Nurse Corps and/or Service Director, and limited the number of female officers who could serve as lieutenant colonels or Navy commanders.

Officer candadates lined up for processing at Lackland AFB, 1949.
Notice some enlisted women in uniform in the line

The law also granted the service Secretaries authority to discharge women without specified cause and restricted women from flying aircraft engaged in combat and from being assigned to ships engaged in combat.

Nov. 8, 1967: Women were prohibited from being generals or admirals until President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Public Law 90-130. It also lifted ceilings for other ranks and removed the 2 percent ceiling on the number of active duty enlisted women. But, as strange as it may seem, women were not fully integrated into the Air Force until 1973. Up till that time, they were part of the Women in the Air Force (WAF).

All WAF Retreat from 1971

Prior to 1973, WAF Basic Military Training reinforced feminine values. Female trainees were required to have two girdles, one on, one in the drawer. They had to carry lipstick and perfume in their "ditty bag" at all times. The Instructors presented a personal development course with a variety of tips for women. Some of the course content included four hours on skin and hair care, two hours on etiquette and office manners, six hours on makeup, a one-hour manicure and pedicure course, and a two-hour block about posture and movement.

The course syllabus for the posture and movement block stated that it was designed to "include definition and purpose of good posture with emphasis on grace in motion." Trainees were instructed in various aspects of good posture: climbing and descending stairs, removing and donning coats, and the all-important manner of crossing one's legs. It also included instruction on how to "walk like a lady again."

The end of Selective Service in 1973 ushered in a new era in personnel policy for all the branches of the Armed Forces. It was at that time that women were designated as actual Airman. The last director of the WAF was Maj General Jeanne M. Holm - 1965-1973.

29 Oct 74: The Air Training Command motto "Prepare the Man" was discontinued.

1 Dec 75: Dual management of military women in ATC officially ended when the command's last WAF Squadron Section was inactivated at Mather AFB.

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