Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Unsung Heroes: The Story of America's Female Patriots" plays at Fort Lee, VA in the Army Women's Museum

Unsung Heroes: The Story of America’s Female Patriots” (2014, 65 minutes), directed by Frank Martin, plays at the U.S. Army Women’s Museum  (link) at Fort Lee, Virginia, near Petersburg. 
The film traces the gradually increasing contributions of female members of the Armed Forces, which go back to the Revolutionary War.  But biggest change came during World War II, with the “Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (later called WAC), to “free the men to fight”, which today sounds like a challenging idea, but that was the idea at one time behind the male-only draft (April 27).  The military, however, didn’t provide full military benefits to women until much more recently.
During WWII, women designed the targeting system for US bombers, but were never allowed to get public credit; their contribution was kept classified.
For Army nurses, at the beginning of 1941, the Philippines was one of the most fun destinations, until Pearl Harbor.  Suddenly the Japanese attacked, and the nurses were taken POW, yet continued to work as nurses in the camps.  One nurse was not allowed to get her distinguished service cross until 2000.
The film contains a number of anecdotes from the Middle East, including Desert Storm (1991) and then the mid 2000’s Iraq war.  One helicopter pilot lost both her legs and one arm to an IUD. 
The film traces the history of lifting of bans for combat:  in 1991, women were allowed to fly combat missions (after the Gulf War);  in 2013, women were allowed almost all ground duties in combat.
In the asymmetric modern world the idea of a “front line” has become archaic.
At the end, one female soldier defines the word “sacrifice”: to give something of lesser value out of oneself for the greater good”.
There is another DVD there, “A Legacy: Army Women’s Contributions from 1775 to the Present
I was able to get on the base by just showing a driver’s license, but they will soon add requiring car insurance papers and vehicle registration, and probably a second picture ID (a US passport is best).
There was no direct mention of lesbians or transgendered persons in the Armed Forces, but the film seems to have been made after the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” and we know of cases where people have served even in Special Forces as men before becoming transgender. 

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