On March 20, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) began with preemptive airstrikes on former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace and selected military targets. The initial assault was followed by approximately 67,700 “boots on the ground” with an additional 15,000 Navy personnel on ships in the region. 

Stories of Inspiring Women

During OIF, American women made history by participating in combat on an unprecedented scale. From March 2003 to December 2011, nearly 300,000 women served across both OIF and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

Lieutenant Colonel Tammy Duckworth

While serving as a helicopter pilot in 2004, Duckworth suffered severe combat wounds, which caused her to lose both of her legs and some mobility in her right arm. She was the first female double amputee from the war. After retiring from the Army, she went to work for Department of Veterans Affairs then became the first female Veteran to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

Specialist Lori Piestewa

The Battle of Nasiriyah was the first major conflict of OIF. During this time, Specialist Piestewa was a member of the 507th Maintenance Company. Her company was traveling in a convoy through the desert when they encountered an ambush. 11 soldiers were killed and six were captured including a wounded Piestewa.

Piestewa was the first woman to die on the front lines in Iraq and the first Native American woman to die serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Her community remembers her sacrifice through a wear blue: run to remember challenge.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Specialist Shoshana Johnson

Johnson was the first Black female Prisoner of War in the military history of the United States. During the Battle of Nasiriyah, she was shot and captured by Iraqi forces. For 22 days, Johnson was held alongside five other members of her unit and was later freed in a rescue mission conducted by United States Marine Corps on April 13, 2003.

Listen in as U.S. Army Veteran Shoshana Johnson shares her story:

Sergeant First Class Leigh Ann Hester

Hester became the first female U.S. Army soldier to receive the Silver Star since World War II, as well as the first ever to be cited for valor in close quarters combat.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Let’s honor the courage and sacrifice of all those involved in OIF. Together, we remember and pay tribute to their unwavering dedication.

WEDS-SUN 10 A.M. - 5 P.M.
background image background image

The NVMM is Open on MLK Day!

$1 Admission on Jan. 16 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Be the first to hear about our latest events, exhibitions and programs.