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Faces of the Fleet: Women’s History Month

The Navy joins the nation in celebrating Women’s History Month throughout the month of March 2018.

Women have served in the Navy as nurses dating back to the 1800s – most notably during the Civil War when the Sisters of the Holy Cross served aboard USS Red Rover, the Navy’s first hospital ship. In 1948, women gained permanent status in the Navy with the passage of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act.

Women serve in every rank from seamen to admiral and hold nearly every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver.

This Women’s History Month, we’re introducing you to some of our shipmates who play an integral role in the success of our Navy as part of the One Navy Team.


HM1 Catherine Villa
HM1 Catherine Villa is the first of her immediate family to enlist in the U.S. military and knew from a young age that she wanted to serve her country. She agreed to a nine month delayed entry program for the U.S. Navy in 2002 to guarantee her desired rating of hospital corpsman. She officially enlisted March 4, 2003, where she graduated Recruit Training Command, Illinois, (Class 921) and went on to complete Hospital Corpsman “A” School. Her first duty station was Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where she worked various jobs from patient administration, labor and delivery, and finally orthopedics. She advanced in rank from E-1 to E-5 and went on to graduate Navy Orthopedic Cast Room Technician school, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in 2008. She then went on to serve at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia. She later was selected to serve on the USS Comfort, Operation Unified Response in 2010. Upon her return, she served as leading petty officer of orthopedics. She later volunteered to take on extra training as a field medical service technician (8404 NEC), and graduated Fleet Medical Training Battalion in 2012, advanced to first class petty officer, and went on to complete her rotation. She was then stationed at Naval Health Clinic Hawaii in 2013, where she served as leading petty officer of patient administration and filled the role of regional limited duty coordinator. She is now stationed onboard USS Essex and serves as medical department, divisional leading chief petty officer. HM1 Villa’s hobbies include fishing, hunting, hiking and spending time with her family.

HM2 Adrienne Ramirez
HM2 Adrienne Ramirez, from Dallas, Texas, began her naval career as dental assistant before earning her degree and becoming a dental hygienist. Now serving aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), she says she loves the Navy and the way her family feels about her career. “My family all live in Texas and are very excited about my military service. They always ask me about what sort of things I’m doing. They’re all looking forward to visiting me here in Japan,” she said. Joining the military just after her high school graduation has helped Ramirez appreciate the skills she has acquired through service. “I think anyone who has the opportunity to serve in the military should. Even if it’s just for one tour of duty. You will never have experiences like the ones you will have while serving your country,” she said. “Nothing else would have prepared me for life in the real world and being a leader like my time in the service.”

IS3 Tiffany Barton

IS3 Tiffany Barton is from a small town called New Providence in the south western portion of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Solanco High School in 2014. Her family has always been supportive of her decision to join the U.S. Navy. Her desire to further her education and travel led to her decision to join the military. Choosing the Navy was an easy decision, considering her great uncle was previously enlisted, and enjoyed hearing his sea stories. Leaving the area where she grew up is a rare thing; many people from Lancaster County choose to stay there and have families and attend college in the area. Since joining she has taken several courses at American Military University, which is 100 percent online allowing her to take classes even while underway onboard USS Essex. Joining the Navy helped with the travel bug, having gone on a recent deployment temporarily attached to COMPHIBRON 5 onboard USS Makin Island, she was able to visit places like Singapore, Bahrain, Dubai, Hong Kong and Hawaii. Onboard Essex, she works primarily in the Joint Intelligence Center producing briefs and dealing with security management for the ship’s personnel, and providing indications and warnings from expeditionary plot to the warfare commanders as a fleet intelligence watch assistant during deployments.

AO1 Crystal Lynne Ward

AO1 Crystal Lynne Ward was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up, she wanted to do something positive for herself and family; she enlisted in the Navy on Oct. 26, 2004. She initially told herself that she would only stay in for four years, but has since made the Navy a career. She wanted to honor her family by serving the military. After enlisting, she saw that the Navy was an amazing organization with so many opportunities for her to better herself. After advancing to 3rd class petty officer and being placed into leadership positions, she saw that she had a lot to offer in experience and mentorship. AO1 Ward has developed into a positive role model for the men and women she has served beside or led during the past 13 years. Her previous duty stations include USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and Recruit Training Center Great Lakes. AO1 Ward is currently serving onboard the USS Essex (LHD 2) as the leading petty officer for Weapons Department, G-1 Division. She is proud of her service and is looking forward to the new experiences, training and leadership opportunities the Navy can provide.

Lt. Rebecca “Badger” Smith

Lt. Rebecca “Badger” Smith, a native of Acton, California, grew up in the shadow of countless stories of her family’s patriotic service dating back to Militia Soldiers in the Revolutionary War.  The stories she is most proud of are those about her Great Aunt’s service in the US Coast Guard SPARS and her grandma’s service as a nurse during World War II. Along with these stories, she was always taught by her parents the idea of service before self. When she turned on the television the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, as a plane flew into the second tower, she knew what that service would entail. At her first opportunity, she enrolled at the University of Maine and pursued a commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. Now a naval helicopter pilot, she owes her success to trailblazers like Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Allen Rainey (first female naval aviator) who paved the way for limitless opportunities. Lt. Smith has spent the majority of her career training the next generation of rotary wing aviators and flying critical missions to protect and defend naval warships and allied fleets from submarine threats in the Western Pacific. In her current role as catapult and arresting gear officer aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), she is responsible for the safe launch and recovery of naval aircraft tasked with conducting the nation’s bidding. Lt. Smith is grateful for the sacrifices women before her have made and is excited for the opportunities their sacrifices have created.

EM1 Jessica Buchanan

EM1 Jessica Buchanan of Buna, Texas, has served ten years in the U.S. Navy. She is currently assigned to the Independence variant littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) in San Diego, California. EM1 Buchanan maintains the electrical power generation and distribution systems onboard the ship and was recently selected as the ship’s Sailor of the Quarter.  Previously, she completed an individual augmentee tour in detainee operations as a corrections officer at Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. EM1 Buchanan joined the Navy at the age of 26 to help pay for her education and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in March 2017. She remains in the Navy because of the many opportunities she has had to advance and succeed. The Navy is a family affair for the Buchanans; her sister has served as a U.S. Navy gas systems mechanic for the past ten years.



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