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Local veterans look back on experiences as women in military

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Posted at 5:40 AM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 10:07:26-05

KSBY spoke with local veterans that look back on their experiences as women in military.

Barbara Fisher enlisted in the Navy in 1973.

“Before, just being a female would cut you off, no matter how smart you were,” said Fisher. “When I was in, you could not do boots on the ground in war front. Girls were not allowed on ships.”

Margaret Glidden enlisted to become a medic in 1971.

“We were told for many years as women, you can’t. We can if we choose to put our minds to it. But we were told we couldn’t,” said Glidden. “When I went to basic training – all females. We were called the women’s army corps. You couldn’t even associate with men in basic training, even though they were on the post.”

Fisher and Glidden say women have made immense strides from being able to hold only support roles like nurses or driving trucks, to pursuing the highest ranks in military today.

“I didn’t see high-ranking females at all when I was in. Now, it’s open. There’s no stopping them. Go for it,” said Fisher.

The two had this to say about their choices to enlist in the U.S. military:

“Absolutely. I’d do it again,” said Glidden.

“I don’t regret it. I would do it all over again,” said Fisher.

In honor of women in military, the Central Coast Veterans Museum put up a display honoring local women that served in the United States military.

Hazel McNett served in the army from May of 1942 to January of 1946. In the 1970s, she became the 1st woman to serve as commander of the San Luis Obispo American Legion. McNett’s uniform is one of four displayed at the museum. She passed in July of 2014, but her legacy in the San Luis Obispo County military community lives on.

“She was immersed in changing those trends. That’s the kind of person that Hazel was,” said Bart Topham, president and director of the Central Coast Veterans Museum. “Hazel was about 5’2”, but she came off as a much bigger lady. She was used to leadership roles. When Hazel was in the room, things tended to center around Hazel because she was a presence. People loved her. You could meet Hazel, talk to her for five minutes, and feel like you’ve known her your entire life.”

McNett gave an interview in April of 2008 as part of the Veterans History Project, where veterans can sit down and talk about their experiences in the military, that is now in the Library of Congress. Click here for a link to McNett’s full interview.