Holm, Jeanne (1921—)

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Holm, Jeanne (1921—)

American Air Force officer, who was the first woman to achieve the rank of major-general. Born Jeanne Marjorie Holm in Portland, Oregon, on June 23, 1921; daughter of John E. Holm and Marjorie (Hammond) Holm; graduate of Air Command and Staff College (1952); Lewis and Clark College, B.A. (1957).


D.S.M. with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Human Action medal; received the Distinguished Achievement award from Lewis and Clark College (1968); granted the leadership award from Camp Fire Girls America (1967, 1972); received the Eugene Zuckert Leadership award, Arnold Air Society (1972); named Woman of the Year in Government and Diplomacy, Ladies' Home Journal (1975), and receivedthe Women's International Center's Living Legacy Award.

Joined Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (1942); commissioned as a second lieutenant (1943); captain of women's training regiment by end of World War II; rejoined service (1948) and transferred to Air Force; became major-general, highest rank achieved by any woman in American armed forces at that time (1973); served as director of women in Air Force (1965–73); retired from service (1975); named special assistant to President Gerald Ford (1976); published Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution (1982).

Born on June 23, 1921, in Portland, Oregon, the daughter of John E. Holm and Marjorie Hammond Holm , Jeanne Holm joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942. One year later, she was commissioned a second lieutenant. By the end of World War II, she was a captain in charge of a women's training regiment. Holm returned to civilian life but rejoined the services in 1948, transferring to the Air Force, and advancing through the years to become a major-general in 1973, the highest rank ever achieved by a woman in the American armed forces at that time.

Her postings included supervising manpower needs at the headquarters of the Allied Air Forces for Southern Europe in Naples (1957–61) and in Washington (1961–65). From 1965 to 1972, she served as director of women in the Air Force. In that role, she implemented enormous advances in career opportunities for women in the service, making changes in assignments and abolishing discriminatory rules. Before she retired in 1975, Holm spent two years as director of the secretariat of Air Force personnel. After retiring, she served as an adviser to the Defense Manpower Commission and also as an advisor to President Gerald Ford (1976–77). She was a member of the Advisory Committee on Women in the Services until 1980.

A strong supporter of women's rights and a member of the National Women's Political Caucus, Holm was the founder and first chair of Women in Government. She is the author of numerous articles on national defense, manpower and personnel and lectured on these subjects as well. Her 1982 book, Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution, takes a detailed look at what women have accomplished throughout the services, despite the limits that were and still are imposed. Topics covered include the contributions women have made in the military from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam; a discussion of the WAAC bill legislation of 1941; the setup and organization of the WAAC program and problems encountered; changes that have occurred in the military as a result of women; problems encountered by women while serving overseas during World War II; and a hard look at the Women's Armed Services Act (1948), which finally established a permanent place for women in the military. About half of the book is dedicated to the options now open to women in the armed forces, and how, because of the unprecedented expansion of female participation in the military, stunning reversals of many sex discrimination rules and policies have been made, although some barriers still remain.

Jo Anne Meginnes , freelance writer, Brookfield, Vermont