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Marine woman next to a jet
Jaden Kim standing next to jet. Jaden J. Kim Collection, AFC2001/001/37518.

Women’s History Month “Go Box” Display in the Veterans History Project Information Center

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The following is a guest blog post by Andy Wolanski, a liaison specialist for the Veterans History Project (VHP).

Table with surrogate displays against a "Veterans History Project" logo wall
Women’s History Month “Go Box” materials on display at the VHP Information Center, March 2023.

The Veterans History Project (VHP) proudly celebrates Women’s History Month by highlighting female veterans across a wide variety of backgrounds, conflicts, and military service branches. The current “Go Box” display that I curated for the VHP Info Center showcases a handful of female servicemembers whose stories of sacrifice and courage truly inspired me. As a veteran myself, listening to these women’s stories and digging through the photos that they submitted to VHP, reminded me of the countless women I had the privilege to serve alongside and how many of them ended up becoming lifelong friends.

Men and women in jackets walking/marching
Andy (second from the left) and fellow Airmen at Osan Air Base, South Korea, 2009. 

As a new staff member on VHP’s Program, Coordination and Communications (PCC) team, I was excited to take on the curatorial work of selecting interesting collections to display in our information center located in the historic Thomas Jefferson Building. For me, this task presented an opportunity to sift through some of the collections and pull out the nuggets that I thought might demonstrate the great diversity of backgrounds in our collection (which includes over 8,000 women!) In this blog post, I’ll highlight a few of the collections I pulled for this project.


Rhona Marie Knox Prescott was recruited into the Army Nurse Corps in her final year of nursing school. The Vietnam War was escalating at that time and Prescott figured that since she wanted to become and operating room nurse, serving her country would likely give her the opportunity to do just that.  After finishing nursing school and her initial military training, Captain Prescott served at the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon where she worked primarily on neurosurgical cases and chest injuries that could not be safely dealt with in the field.

Men and woman in Army uniforms outside
Operating Room Corpsmen and Rhona Knox near An Khe. Rhona Marie Knox Prescott Collection, AFC2001/001/01146.

She went on to serve in other locations in Vietnam where she became active chief nurse. In her post-military career, she earned an advanced degree in clinical social work and worked for a VA Readjustment Counseling Service. In addition, her experiences in Vietnam led to her writing Another Kind of War Story, a self-published collection of short stories.

Another collection that I was drawn to was JaeLee Waldschmidt. An Electrician’s Mate in the US Navy, Waldschmidt was stationed aboard the USS Hawaii, a Virginia-class submarine. In her oral history interview, she talks about how it felt to be away from home in a “hunk of steel” under the waves for long periods of time. She also talked about how wanting to live her truth and reveal her gender identity were at odds with Department of Defense policy at the time. This led to her separating with an honorable discharge in 2012. After her military service, Waldschmidt went on to continue working on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community to promote and advocate for the rights of marginalized peoples in communities around the country.

Lastly, I chose to highlight Jaden J. Kim, a Marine Corps Captain who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Captain Kim trained as a “backseater” – a weapons system officer who coordinated target locations. In her oral history interview with VHP, she notes that she fractured her ankle within the first week of officer candidate school. Never the one to be deterred by such things or take it as a bad omen, she completed training and flight school and went on to serve multiple deployments in combat zones.

“You are in a support role, as Marine Air, and your job is to make sure that you knock out your target so they don’t hurt your Marines on the ground.”

Marine woman next to a jet
Jaden Kim standing next to jet. Jaden J. Kim Collection, AFC2001/001/37518.

I had the immense fortune to serve alongside female servicemembers who are every bit as impressive as Prescott, Waldschmidt and Kim. In an industry that’s still heavily dominated by male opinions and decisions, it’s critical that we stop and reflect (not just during Women’s History Month) on the incredible impact women have in every service branch and every career field. If women account for roughly 51% of the general population, then they account for at least that percentage (or more) of the reasons why the United States military is a force to be reckoned with.  We are always excited to add more women’s stories to VHP’s growing collection. Learn more about participating here!

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