USS Constitution sets sail for women veterans

  • Published
  • By Jaima Fogg
  • 66th Air Base Group

In honor of Women Veterans Day, passengers participated in an underway aboard the USS Constitution June 14.

Col. Taona Enriquez, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., installation commander, spoke to the crowd as the oldest commissioned warship made its way through Boston Harbor toward Castle Island and Fort Independence.

“Today, women make up approximately 17.5 percent of our active-duty service members, serving in integral roles that have shaped our military and supported our various missions around the world,” Enriquez said. “Women have been demonstrating commitment to our profession since the beginning of our nation.”

Women veterans onboard for the underway included active-duty Naval Academy cadets, Navy Sailors and Air Force Airmen. 

Retired Cmdr. Elizabeth (Belzer) Rowe, the first of 55 women to graduate from the Naval Academy in 1980, was also in attendance.

Enriquez highlighted inspirational and influential women who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces.  

  • Deborah Sampson – A native of Plimpton, Mass., Sampson disguised herself as a man during the Revolutionary War and served with the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment.
  • Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson – In 2016, Robinson was the first woman to command the North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command.  
  • Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti – In 2023, Franchetti became the first woman to assume the role as Chief of Naval Operations.

As the fastest growing population of veterans, more than two million women have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military.

“To my fellow service members, I urge you to share your stories,” Enriquez said. “You are brave, strong and resilient and your experience is worth sharing. Celebrate your extraordinary achievements and remember that your sacrifices and those of the women who have made our military stronger.”

The USS Constitution is commanded by Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell, the first woman to hold the role in the ship’s 225-year history. Farrell will turn over command to Cmdr. Crystal Shaefer June 21.

Women Veterans Day is recognized annually on June 12 to mark the anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act. The act was signed into law in 1948 enabling women to serve as permanent, regular members of the armed forces in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.

The day is meant to honor and acknowledge women veterans and the unique challenges that they face. Although it is not a national holiday, Women Veterans Day is recognized by 12 states through legislation or proclamation.