Out of the 18 million veterans, 9% or 2 million are women, Retired Command Sergeant Major David Ray Hudson told those attending the Veterans Day Parade and Celebration Saturday in downtown South Boston.
“Let’s keep in mind, women veterans do all the things that male veterans do, and they have just the same respect,” said Hudson, who took the time to talk about women’s role in the military since the Revolutionary War.
Women began serving during the Revolutionary War, and he said four women nurses received a Silver Star, the third highest recognition a veteran could receive during World War II.
Some 53,000 plus names are found on the Vietnam Memorial, and he said eight of those names are of women.
In 2016, he said all restrictions were lifted for women in the military, and they were no longer forced to only serve in non-combat roles.
By 2018, Hudson said 16% of those who serve in the armed forces were women.
But, before those restrictions were lifted in 2016, women served in roles providing assistance and support in other ways.
“Politicians don’t want our mothers, our daughters, our sisters and our aunts maimed or fighting and carrying guns. But we know those women served,” said Hudson.
Even still, women were injured and killed in noncombat including one woman he shared about — Leigh Ann Hester.
In 2007, Hudson met the United States National Guard Soldier.
While assigned to the 617th Military Police Company, a Kentucky Army National Guard unit, she received the Silver Star for her heroic actions in March 2005 during an enemy ambush in Iraq.
She was serving as a military policewoman, a noncombat role, riding a humvee, when unbeknownst to them, the enemy attacked.
“When that attack came, she immediately engaged the enemy with her N4 rifle and MTO3 grenade launcher. She stood in the ditch, and she fought. She was known and observed to kill three enemy insurgents. She was known to save the lives of numerous men who were on her team. She was awarded the Silver Star,” said Hudson.
He also spoke of his wife, Denise, who is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force Reserve and the Army National Guard.
The two own a farm in Elmo, and he said often times people will thank him for his service, but they don’t always think to thank his wife.
He said often times when people think of a veteran, they think of an old man, but he said that stereotype needs to be removed, and all veterans need to be shown respect.
“We need to keep that in mind and never forget that,” said Hudson, who spoke during a celebration at Constitution Square following the Veterans Day parade in downtown South Boston on Saturday.
Members of the American Legion Post 8 also presented a gun salute, and Dominic Stephens performed taps.
Matt Boswell provided music, Maggie Vogt led the pledge of allegiance, and the Rev. Zak Ford gave the invocation.