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Mildred McAfee

Capt. Mildred McAfee (Horton) was the first woman commissioned as a line officer in the Navy Reserve in 1942. A 1920 graduate of Vassar College, she went on to earn a Master of Arts degree from the University of Chicago in 1928 and then became the president of Wellesley College in 1936. McAfee took a leave of absence to join the Navy Reserve. Commissioned as lieutenant commander, she immediately undertook the demanding task of director of the Navy’s newly-established Women’s Reserve. In 1943, following the passage of new legislation by the Congress, she was promoted to the rank of captain. She was the first director of the WAVES (1942-1945) and oversaw the service’s growth to a force of more than 100,000 Navy women in a variety of occupational specialties. She continued on active duty until 1946, when she returned to the presidency of Wellesley College.

Last Updated: 29 March 2023



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