Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson G. Brown
BREMERTON, Washington – USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) Multi-Cultural Heritage Committee hosted Sailors for a Women’s History Month celebration, March 24.
The ceremony celebrated influential women in naval history, and featured several guest speakers, including Capt. Scott Miller, John C. Stennis’ executive officer and Poulsbo City Counsel Board of Directors member, and retired Navy captain, Sandra Smith, who was influential in bringing uniform changes for women during her time in the Navy.
“When I went to OCS (Officer Candidate School) in Newport, none of our uniforms had slacks. Women officers had service dress blues with black heels, and our summer uniforms had a white pinstripe that wasn’t very uniform with the rest of the Navy,” said Smith. “[In response to a uniform review board request] I wrote a long statement to the Navy with drawings that basically said ‘make our summer uniforms uniform,’ and they did just that,” said Smith.
Smith influenced many of the Navy’s uniform changes to accommodate females in service, including allowing women to wear earrings in uniform and creating a maternity uniform for pregnant Sailors.
Other speakers at the ceremony also spoke of other prominent females in the military, such as Regina Mills, the Navy’s first female aviation deck limited-duty officer, and Adm. Michelle Howard, the first African-American woman to command a Navy ship, and the first woman to become a four star admiral.
Sailors who attended said they appreciated the celebration for remembering how far women have come in the military.
“If it wasn’t for the women in our history I wouldn’t be able to serve today,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Bianca Knight, from New York.
Knight said that she is inspired both by women who served before her and the women she serves alongside today.
Knight said she has two fellow female chiefs in her rate within her division. “Learning from them, and being their protégé is actually showing me the things I need to know to succeed in my rate.”
John C. Stennis is conducting a planned incremental availability (PIA) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, during which the ship is undergoing scheduled maintenance and upgrades.