Maj. Gen. Jeanne Holm

Maj. Gen. Jeanne Holm. (DoD photo)
Maj. Gen. Jeanne Holm. (DoD photo)

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeanne Holm spent her life and military career breaking through the barriers. She joined the military in July 1942 and didn't retire until three decades later, after becoming the first woman in any branch of service to reach the rank of two-star general.

Trained as a silversmith, Holm enlisted quickly after Congress formed the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs). After attending Officer Candidate School, she was commissioned as a third officer, the WAAC equivalent of a second lieutenant. After serving stateside during World War II, Holm left active duty and finished her college degree.

However, during the 1948 Berlin crisis, Holm was recalled to active duty and did not leave again until her 1975 retirement. In 1949, she was transferred to the newly created Air Force. Among her early assignments, she served as war plans officer for the 85th Air Deport Wing in Germany during the Berlin airlift and the early stages of the Korean War.

After becoming the first woman to attend the Air Command and Staff School, serving as chief of manpower for Allied Air Forces Southern Europe, and as a congressional staff officer, Holm was appointed director of personnel of women in the Air Force. In this position (which she extended twice), Holm played a significant role in eliminating restrictions on women in service. "I can say in absolute candor and honesty that we wouldn't have women in the Air Force without Jeanne Holm," Air Force Brig. Gen. Jean Klick has said.

Holm herself said that while "it's a given" for men to serve their country, it's not yet considered an obligation of citizenship for women — but it should be. She continued working towards that goal after retirement, which is perhaps why her 1986 book was titled "Women in the Military, An Unfinished Revolution."

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