When the words powerful, warrior and attractive are used to refer to women, you would most likely to think about the movie Wonder Woman wherein the actress, Gal Gadot, played a gorgeous Amazonian warrior who is a complete bad ass. While most people may be inclined to think that people like “Wonder Woman” only exist on films and in fictional literary works, you will be surprised to know that there are numerous women who walked the earth, and even still living and breathing, who completely imbibe the warrior-spirit.
Just a century ago, it would be unimaginable to even think that women would live to fight for their country and its citizens or to live a warrior-like life; but times have truly changed since the number of female uniformed personnel has been steadily increasing, year after year. In the United States alone, over 200,000 women are on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Marine Corps. While most female uniformed personnel all over the world are serving in different capacities, other than literally killing the enemies in war-zone areas, there are quite a number of countries that actually allow their women to serve in front-line combat positions. If you do not know what it means, try picturing the most thrilling war movies in your head where soldiers engage in hand-to-hand combat, except that the soldiers are women. Pretty awesome, right? Be amazed and shout “Girl power!” as you go through the following list of amazing women warriors from various parts of the world.
15. Ann E. Dunwoody
General Dunwoody is the first woman to ever receive a four-star status in the United States Army in 2008. Dunwoody started her career in the army in 1975, after graduating from the State University of New York in Cortland as a second lieutenant. While in service, she didn’t stop trying to better herself, and went on to finish two graduate degrees in logistics management and national resource strategy. By 2005, General Dunwoody is the highest-ranking woman in the army, earning three stars and holding the position of deputy chief of staff for Army logistics. She also received numerous awards for her skills, and invaluable service such as the Distinguished Service Medal, Defence Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and many others.
14. Lauren Edwards
Major Lauren Edwards of the Marine Corps is a modern day female bad ass. When she was serving as a combat engineer during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, her unit’s convoy was attacked but she was able to lead over 150 marines and several vehicles in defensive maneuvers, nonetheless. The feat earned her an award for valour. Apart from her unparalleled bravery, Edwards can easily compete with males in terms of strength and endurance, even with the innate biological superiority of males in these areas. Needless to say, Edwards can give any man a run for his money when it comes to physical strength. She is known to run three miles in 18 minutes, and even complete a hundred sit-ups and 20 pull-ups in 120 seconds.
13. Patricia Horoho
Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho of the U.S. Army is not only a top female warrior, but a hero to many nurses all over the world. Horoho was appointed as the 43rd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army in 2011– the highest position in the Army’s medical department! Do you think this is an ordinary feat? Actually, it is beyond impressive considering that Horoho is the first woman and the first non-physician to ever assume the position. She is a nurse, but her experience and unparalleled performance in the trauma units made her an authority in the field. In fact, she wrote a chapter on training filed hospitals, in a document published by the U.S. Army Reserve Command Surgeon, and received countless awards.
12. Leigh Ann Hester
Picture a woman soldier firing shots at close range, killing enemies to save not only her life, but the lives of other soldiers – pretty awesome, right? This is exactly what Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester of the U.S. Army did, when her squad was attacked by Iraqi insurgents when they were stationed in Iraq. Reports even say that Hester walked directly into the line of fire to kill the enemies – something that can be expected from a true fierce maiden warrior. Her quick wit, courage, and tenacity that saved the lives of many of her companions earned her the Silver Star Medal, the third highest award that is only given for valour in combat. Hester is the first woman to receive this honour since World War II!
11. MaryBeth Monson
Corporal MaryBeth Monson of the U.S. Marine Corps, was hailed as USO’s Woman of the Year Military Leadership Award in 2013; which is an absolute honour, given that only one woman in the service is selected for this award each year. Monson showed unbelievable grace under pressure when she was stationed in Afghanistan, and enemies who disguised themselves as American soldiers assaulted their base. While ordinary women would have shrieked and collapsed in panic, Monson did the opposite by staying composed, and making sure that every person was calm until the area was secured. After the failed attack, MaryBeth even spent 80 hours cleaning up the place, even though her unit was not tasked to be involved in the clean-up.
10. Amina Khamis Al Bloushi
While it is natural for males to dominate the police force, there is a steadily increasing number of females who are joining the force in the west and other democratic countries. The number of women police in Arab countries, however, is still very small, which is why when an Emirati woman, named Captain Amina Khamis Al Bloushi of Abu Dhabi, had been selected as one of the four-most outstanding police officers in the world by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), it is kind of a big deal. Al Bloushi is leading the charge to promote the ideals of female police officers in the Middle East. A job that is difficult considering the wide gender gap among the countries in this region.
9. Ashley Pullen
Army Specialist Ashley Pullen, is what everybody would claim as a hero. While she was deployed in Baghdad, Pullen’s convoy was attacked and one of her companions was severely injured in the stomach. Ashley attended to the injured squad member, treated the wounds, and even used her own body as a shield to protect the member from being hit again. One would think that using her own body to save another would be enough good deed for the day, but after the critical ordeal, Pullen also assisted other wounded soldiers, so they can be evacuated by helicopters. This heroic act earned Ashley a Bronze Star with Valour.
8. Maria Urso
Captain Maria Urso of the U.S. Army may not be a “warrior” in the literal sense of the word, but she is persistently fighting the battle that will save a lot of injured soldiers in combat and even civilians as well. Urso is the recipient of the highest honour the U.S. gives to professionals in the science and engineering fields, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientist and Engineers (PECASE), for her research on cellular mechanisms of musculoskeletal injury and repair. Apart from her passion and dedication to scientific research, Urso is also active in community activities, serving as co-chair of the American College of Sports Medicine Cellular and Molecular Biology Interest group, as well as many others.
7. Margaret Woodward
Major General Margaret Woodward of the U.S. Air Force is a true-blue wonder woman. She holds the honor of being the first woman to command the entire U.S. air campaign in Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn. How impressive is that? Even Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War, wouldn’t have anticipated that a woman can successfully organize and lead an entire military operation. Woodward may have retired in 2014, but she still holds an important position as the Director of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention, and Response (SAPR) directly under the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force.
6. Joan of Arc
How many women fighters marked their legacy not only in military history, but in religion as well? Probably just one – Joan of Arc. She is regarded as the national heroine of France, considering that she led the French army to countless victories during the Hundred Years’ War. Joan was a simple girl who lived a pious life, but after having mystical visions of St. Michael and St. Catherine anointing her as the saviour of France, she obeyed her quest to defeat the English who invaded France, and install Charles VII as the rightful king; both of which she succeeded. Sadly, Joan was burned at the stake at 19 years old for charges of heresy, but cleared of the crime 25 years later after a re-investigation. Joan was canonized for sainthood in 1920.
5. Tomoe Gozen
Japan is known for martial arts and samurai, but not many people know that one of Japan’s top samurai warriors in the late 12th century, was a woman named Tomoe Gozen. One historical account described Tomoe as a true-blue badass Charlie’s angel – extremely beautiful with fair skin, long black hair, and an unbelievable talent in archery, horseback riding, and sword fighting. She was known to have fought in the Genpei War from 1180 to 1185, together with other male samurais and her master, Minamoto Yoshinaka. While the real story of Tomoe Gozen may be unknown to the young generation, her character continues to appear in popular culture (films, video games, manga, and many others); not only in Japan, but in western countries as well.
4. Maria Josefa Gabriela Silang
The Philippines was under the Spanish rule for more than three centuries. Gabriella Silang was one of the few women who stood prominently in history, as the first female leader of a Filipino movement for independence from Spain. Leading and fighting must have been in her destiny, since she was not originally planning to spearhead a revolt. It was her husband, Diego Silang who was taking charge; but Gabriella took it upon herself to finish what her husband had started, after Diego was assassinated in May 1763. Gabriela fought gallantly against the Spaniards, until she was captured and executed by hanging in September 1763; a few months after her husband’s death.
3. Elizabeth C. Newcume
Newcume is the United States’ version of “Joan of Arc”, minus the divine inspiration urging her to fight, but she fought well nonetheless. Just like France’s Joan, Elizabeth tried to get into the military at Fort Leavenworth, to serve in the Mexican-American War by dressing like a boy in 1847. Newcume successfully fought the battle against Native Americans in Dodge City, but she was eventually discharged from service and was perpetually disqualified to enter again after her true gender had been revealed, less than a year after joining. Nonetheless, her service and dedication to the cause were not left unrecognized, since she was awarded about 160 acres of land by Congress in 1948.
2. Annie G. Fox
While women are known to be naturally calm under pressure, Annie G. Fox of the Army Nurse Corps, who was instrumental in helping wounded U.S. soldiers during the attack on Pearl Harbor, is without a doubt the best among the rest in being ice-calm. Fox was responsible for administering anesthesia, dressing wounds, and caring for injured and dying soldiers. It was said that she carried on with her duties even under heavy bombardments by the enemies. Fox, the First Lieutenant and Chief Nurse in Oahu, Hawaii, was the first woman in the history of the military to ever receive the Purple Heart for her bravery and outstanding service.
1. Mary E. Walker
Walker stands out in the history of women in the military, as she was the first and only female recipient of the extremely prestigious Congressional Medal of Honour. Walker came from a family who pushed for the abolition of slavery. She, herself, was a true advocate of women empowerment, as she pushed for women’s rights even before she entered the military force. Walker earned a medical degree and initially volunteered to serve as a medical officer in the army but was later rejected. Not the kind of girl to accept a “no” answer, Walker fought discrimination, and became an assistant surgeon in the army in 1863.
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