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Jean Palmer

April 1, 2012

Though Women’s History Month has ended, we’re going to continue our feature on women’s Navy firsts for the next few days.

Jean Palmer enlisted in the Navy in 1942. She would become the second woman to command the WAVES, taking over the position after Mildred McAfee stepped down in 1945.

She said of her service:

You had to be able to adapt. There were many interesting jobs, and I felt that at the end of the four year perdio the people who had the brains and the background found their way into those jobs…One of the advantages of being a woman in a service that never had women before, you never quite knew whether they would treat you like a lady or like an officer..

Palmer left the Navy in 1946. She became director of admissions at Barnard College. Palmer died in 1992.

This photograph comes from the National Archives. Palmer is third from the left.

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