Jeanne Holm
Major General Jeanne M. Holm c. 1973
Born(1921-06-23)June 23, 1921
Portland, Oregon
DiedFebruary 15, 2010(2010-02-15) (aged 88)
Annapolis, Maryland
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
Years of service1942–1946
RankMajor General
Commands heldWomen in the Air Force
Battles/warsWorld War II
Berlin Blockade
AwardsAir Force Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit

Major General Jeanne Marjorie Holm (June 23, 1921 – February 15, 2010)[1][2] was the first female one-star general of the United States Air Force and the first female two-star general in any service branch of the United States.[3] Holm was a driving force behind the expansion of women's roles in the Air Force.[4]

Early career

Holm was born Jeanne Marjorie Hannes on June 23, 1921, in Portland, Oregon. She enlisted in the Army in July 1942, soon after the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was established by Congress. She attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, and in January 1943, received a commission as a "Third Officer," the WAAC equivalent of Second Lieutenant.[3]

World War II

During World War II, Holm was assigned to the Women's Army Corps Training Center at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, where she first commanded a basic training company and then a training regiment. At the end of the war, she commanded the 106th WAC Hospital Company at Newton D. Baker General Hospital, West Virginia. She then left active military duty in 1946 and attended Lewis and Clark College for two years, returning in 1956 for her Bachelor of Arts degree.[3]

Captain Holm, company commander, 1948

In October 1948, during the Berlin Blockade, Holm was recalled to active duty with the Army and went to Camp Lee in Virginia, as a company commander within the Women's Army Corps Training Center. The following year she transferred to the Air Force and was sent to Erding Air Depot, Germany. There she served as assistant director of plans and operations for the 7200th Air Force Depot Wing, and later was War Plans Officer for the 85th Air Depot Wing, during the Berlin airlift and the early phases of the Korean War.[3]

Cold War

Holm returned from overseas in 1952 and became the first woman to attend the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.[5] She was then assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, DC, as a personnel plans and programs officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel.[3]

Her next assignment was as chief of manpower in Allied Air Forces Southern Europe, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters, in Naples, Italy, where she served for four years. She returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in 1961 and was assigned as congressional staff officer for the director of manpower and organization. For her work in this assignment, she was awarded the Legion of Merit.[3]


In November 1965 Holm was appointed director of Women in the Air Force (WAF), in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel. Her appointment was extended twice, making her the longest-serving WAF director. She was responsible for overall staff cognizance of and advice on matters concerning military women in the Air Force. During her tenure, policies affecting women were updated, WAF strength more than doubled, job and assignment opportunities greatly expanded, and uniforms modernized. She was an active proponent for expanding the opportunities for women to serve in the Armed Forces and a catalyst for changing their roles and career opportunities within the Air Force. Historian Walter J. Boyne acknowledged her "enormous influence on the role of women in the Air Force".[4] For her exceptionally meritorious service in this assignment, she was awarded the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal.[3]

Air Force leadership

Holm was promoted to the grade of brigadier general July 16, 1971, the first woman to be appointed in this grade in the Air Force. She was promoted to the grade of major general effective June 1, 1973, with date of rank July 1, 1970, and was the first woman in the Armed Forces to serve in that grade.[3]

On March 1, 1973, Holm was appointed director of the Secretary of the Air Force Personnel Council. In this position, she was responsible for administration of the council and functioning of its boards and served as president of: the Air Force Discharge Review Board, Personnel Board, Board of Review, Physical Disability Appeal Board, Decorations Board and the Disability Review Board.[3]

Holm retired from the Air Force in 1975.

White House

After retiring, Holm consulted for the Defense Manpower Commission. In March 1976 Holm was named special assistant to President Gerald Ford for the Office of Women's Programs. Holm helped Ford attract more female voters by reaching out to women's groups and making note of women's issues. Holm detailed for Ford a plan for presentation to the Justice Department which would authorize a full re-examination of the United States Code to determine whether the wording of any law was sex-based and not justified. Ford directed the attorney general to begin the task and announced it to the public on July 1, 1976. At the polls, women voters favored Ford by a small percentage but were outnumbered by a larger male turnout. Males favored Jimmy Carter just enough to give him 50.1% of the popular vote.[6]

Awards and recognition

Holm was a member of the Board of Trustees, Air Force Historical Foundation; member of the Board of Directors of Camp Fire Girls; member of Board of Directors of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union; and member of the Air Force Association. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Lewis and Clark College in 1968; Citation of Honor from the Air Force Association in 1971; and the Eugene Zuckert Leadership Award from the Arnold Air Society in 1972.[3]

Holm was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2000.[7] In 2003, the Air Force Association conferred upon her their Lifetime Achievement Award. Holm was inducted into the International Women in Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006. A section of Air University was reorganized in 2008 and renamed the Jeanne M. Holm Officer Accession and Citizen Development Center.[8]

Military Decorations
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Width-44 crimson ribbon with a pair of width-2 white stripes on the edges Legion of Merit
Women's Army Corps Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal with Berlin Airlift Device
Medal for Humane Action
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver and bronze oak leaf clusters
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon

Effective dates of promotion

Insignia Rank Date
Major General June 1, 1973
Brigadier General July 16, 1971


Holm wrote two books about women in the military, beginning with Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution in 1982. Holm updated the book in 1992–1994, filling in American women's combat and military experiences in the invasions of Grenada, Panama and in the Gulf War.[9] In 1998, Holm published a history of American women serving in World War II, entitled In Defense of a Nation: Servicewomen in World War II, summarizing the experiences of women serving all of the military arms.[10]

In 2003 Holm assisted author Linda Witt in her writing of the book A Defense Weapon Known to be of Value: Servicewomen of the Korean War Era, published in 2005. Holm described for Witt the history of the WAF in the early 1950s and the trials women experienced as they made their way through the male-dominated military.[11]

Personal life

Holm was an accomplished snow and water skier, student of ancient history, scuba diver and skipper of her own power cruiser. Prior to entering military service, she was a professional silversmith.[3]

On February 15, 2010 in Annapolis, Maryland, Holm died from pneumonia in both lungs.[12] She was survived by her family members such as a brother, nephews, and nieces. Funeral services for Holm were conducted at Arlington National Cemetery on March 29, 2010, with full military honors.[13]

See also


  1. ^ 1999 Women In Military Service calendar. Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. Retrieved on February 17, 2010.
  2. ^ "Face of Defense: Military Community Loses Pioneer". Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Defense. American Forces Press Service. February 18, 2010. Archived from the original on March 1, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k United States Air Force Biographies: "Major General Jeanne M. Holm". Archived from the original on 2012-07-16.
  4. ^ a b Boyne, Walter J. (2007). Beyond the Wild Blue (2nd ed.). Thomas Dunne Books. pp. 251–252. ISBN 9781429901802.
  5. ^ "First female Air Force major general dies". United Press International. February 18, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  6. ^ Martin, Janet M. (2003). The Presidency and Women: Promise, Performance, & Illusion. Texas A&M University. pp. 190–201. ISBN 1-58544-245-3.
  7. ^ National Women's Hall of Fame, Jeanne Holm,
  8. ^ "Ground-breaking Female Officer Dies". Arlington, Virginia: Air Force Association. February 18, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  9. ^ Holm, Jeanne (1994). Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution (2 ed.). Presidio Press. ISBN 0-89141-513-0.
  10. ^ Holm, Jeanne M. (1998). In Defense of a Nation: Servicewomen in World War II. Vandamere Press. ISBN 0-918339-43-X.
  11. ^ Witt, Linda; Judith Bellafaire; Britta Granrud; Mary Jo Binker (2005). In Defense of a Nation: Servicewomen in World War II. UPNE. p. 266. ISBN 1-58465-472-4.
  12. ^ Vaught, Wilma L., Brigadier General USAF (Retired). President, Women's Memorial Foundation. Email notice to Foundation members, February 17, 2010.
  13. ^ "Jeanne M. Holm". The Washington Post. February 21, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2010.

Further reading