Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives: Maj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm

Maj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm was the first female U.S. Air Force officer to achieve flag rank and the first female two-star general in any U.S. military branch.  She was an active exponent for expanding the opportunities for women to serve in the armed forces and a catalyst for changing their roles and career opportunities within the Air Force.

Maj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm was the first female U.S. Air Force officer to achieve flag rank and the first female two-star general in any U.S. military branch. She was an active exponent for expanding the opportunities for women to serve in the armed forces and a catalyst for changing their roles and career opportunities within the Air Force.

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Maj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm was born June 23, 1921, in Portland, Ore. In July 1942, she enlisted in the Army, soon after the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was established. The following year, she attended Officer Candidate School at Ft. Des Moines, Iowa, and received a commission as "third officer," the WAAC equivalent to second lieutenant.

Holm was assigned to the Women's Army Corps Training Center at Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga., during World War II, and commanded a basic training company and then a training regiment. At the end of the war, she commanded the 106th WAC Hospital Company at Newton D. Baker General Hospital, W. Va.

She left active military duty in 1946 and attended Lewis and Clark College for two years, returning in 1956 for her Bachelor of Arts degree.

In October 1948, Holm was recalled to active duty with the Army during the Berlin Blockade. She went to Camp Lee, Va., as a company commander. In 1949, she transferred to the Air Force when a new law integrated women into the regular armed forces, and was sent to Erding Air Depot, Germany.

She became the first woman to attend the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 1952 when she returned from overseas. She was then assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C., as a personnel plans and programs officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel.

Holm then served in a variety of personnel assignments, including Director of Women in the Air Force from 1965 to 1973, making her the longest serving WAF director. While holding her position as Director of WAF, Holm was able to play a significant role in eliminating restrictions on numbers of women serving in all ranks, opening ROTC and service academies to women and changing the policies on the status of women in the Armed Forces. For her exceptionally meritorious service in this assignment, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

On March 1, 1973, Holm was appointed director of the Secretary of the Air Force Personnel Council.

She was promoted to the grade of brigadier general July 16, 1971, the first woman in the Air Force to be appointed in this grade in the Air Force. She was promoted to the grade of major general effective June 1, 1973, with date of rank July 1, 1970, and was the first woman in the Armed Forces to serve in that grade.

Holm retired from the Air Force in 1975. She served three presidential administrations as the special assistant on women for President Gerald Ford, policy consultant for President James Carter, and first chairperson of the Veterans Administration's Committee on Women Veterans for President Ronald Reagan.

She received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Lewis and Clark College in 1968; Citation of Honor from the Air Force Association in 1971; and the Eugene Zuckert Leadership Award from the Arnold Air Society in 1972.

In 2006, Holm was inducted into the International Women in Aviation Hall of Fame. The Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., was renamed by Air Force Officials the Jeanne M. Holm Officer Accession and Citizen Development Center in June 2008. Its mission is Air Force officer recruitment and training within the Air University.

Holm authored two books including, "Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution," which came out in 1982 and was updated in 1994. Four years later she wrote "In Defense of a Nation: Servicewomen in World War II."

Holm died Feb. 15, 2010, in Annapolis, Md.

(Courtesy of the Air Force History Support Office and Air Force News Service)