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Jeanne M. Holm dies at 88; first female Air Force general
The first woman in any military branch to become a two-star general, she played a pivotal role in opening up the military to women and was called 'a legend in our lifetime.'
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Jeanne M. Holm, who played a pivotal role in opening up the military to women and who was the first female general in the Air Force and the first woman in any military branch to become a two-star general, has died. She was 88.
Holm died of pneumonia Feb. 15 at a hospital in Annapolis, Md., said Wilma Vaught, president of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation. Holm lived in Edgewater, Md.
"She truly was a legend in our lifetime," said Vaught, a retired Air Force one-star general. "Almost anything she touched, she made it better than it was."
Throughout and after a military career that started with Holm driving trucks for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II, she worked to achieve parity for women in the military.
By 1965, Holm was director of Women in the Air Force, positioned to bring sweeping change to a military that largely viewed its female solders as a vast secretarial pool.
"It was a large challenge," Holm, who kept the job until 1973, told Investor's Business Daily last year. "Women were not allowed to create policy. I had to be creative."
Her many groundbreaking accomplishments include successfully pushing for women to be admitted to service academies, serve as pilots and have expanded roles in combat.
Elevated to brigadier general in 1971, she received the second star of a major general two years later.
In the early 1970s, Holm also worked closely with future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, on a landmark legal case. The resulting U.S. Supreme Court ruling forced the military to give women the same benefits it gave men.
"She was a strategic thinker, particularly when it came to the politics of getting something done," Vaught said. "She made you want to say yes."
Jeanne Marjorie Holm was born June 23, 1921, in Portland, Ore., and grew up the middle of three children of a widow.
After graduating from high school, Holm worked as a silversmith. When World War II broke out, she was frustrated that she couldn't follow her brothers into the military.
But after the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was organized in 1942, she joined and soon had an officer's commission. Holm spent most of the war years commanding Army basic training units.
At Portland's Lewis & Clark College, she studied art but was recalled to active duty with the Army in 1948 and transferred to the Air Force a year later after it was opened up to women.
She went through during the tough times when the answers were "woman want to do what..." she stuck to what she loved and steadily pursued her carreer thank you for the great, informative post.