Jewish Women in the Military - Navy

The history of women serving in the United States Navy began in the Civil War when nuns of the Roman Catholic religious orders came aboard hospital ships to assist the wounded. While the first trained nurses served in the Navy during the Spanish-American War, it was not until 1908 that the Navy Nurse Corps was officially established and produced over 12,000 women who served during World War I. The Navy "WAVES" or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service force was officially established on July 30, 1942. The WAVES were created to initiate a rapid buildup of Navy personnel at the outset of WWII to address an acute shortage of manpower. With the establishment of a women's reserve force, Congress hoped to enlist a total of 10,000 women and 1,000 officers to aid in the war effort.

Bernice Sains Freid, Bebe Koch,and Lt. Miriam "Mimi" Miller each served in the Navy WAVES during World War II. Miranda Bloch represents one of the first Jewish women in the Marines and Cindy Gats served in the Marines during Operation Desert Storm.


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V-E Day at Hunter College in Bronx, New York, the training school for WAVES, May 8, 1945.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women in the Military - Navy." (Viewed on November 29, 2023) <>.


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