Charlotte Winters

Ms. Winters served during World War I. She was the last surviving woman to have served in the U.S. military in World War I.

She was among the first women to enlist in the U.S. Navy.

Source: Source: Duluth News Tribune, April 4, 2007 (see below)

Title of article: Charlotte Winters: WWI Navy Enlistee

Charlotte Winters, the last surviving woman to have served in the U.S. armed forces in World War I and one of the first to enlist in the Navy, died Tuesday at her home in Boonsboro, Md. She was 109.

The death was confirmed by Phillip Molter, a spokesman for the Naval District Washington, who said Winters was one of the “four or five” surviving American veterans of World War I of either sex.

Walters held the rank of Yeoman (F)—the F was for female—from March 1917 to July 1919, and served her entire enlistment as a clerk at the Naval Gun Factory at the Washington Navy Yard.

“She’s not No. 1 on the rolls, but she was among the first women to enlist,” Jennifer Marland, assistant curator of the U. S. Navy Museum in Washington, said Thursday.
“Women didn’t have to step up and answer the call of their country, but she did.”

Winters heard about the possibility of joining the Navy two years after graduating from the Washington Business High School. The secretary of the Navy at the time, Josephus Daniels, was proponent of women’s rights who saw a loophole in the Naval Appropriations Act of 1916. The law, which created what was called the U.S. Naval Reserve Force, established six categories of citizens who could enlist.

The act did not specify men, but citizens and persons, “Susan H Goodson, a historian, wrote in her 2001 book, “Serving Proudly: A History of Women in the U.S. navy” (Naval Institute Press)

Daniels “seized the opportunity” the book says. The women’s enlistments allowed men to go to sea as sailors.

Winters was among about 600 women who were on duty by the end of April 1917. By December 1918, there were 11,000 women in the Navy.

After her Naval service, Winters continued to work for the Navy as a civilian in various administrative positions in Washington until her retirement in 1953.

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