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Around The Fleet

Pride and Legacy

Two generations of Navy women

In May 2015, 95-year-old Jean Marie Dorn Lowman wanted nothing more than to see her granddaughter, Midshipman 1st Class Amber Lowman, graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy and toss her cap high in the sky.

Determined, Jean made her way to Annapolis, Maryland, but, hampered with declining health, was physically unable to make it inside the stadium to see the commissioning ceremony.

That day, Ensign Lowman graduated, became a commissioned naval officer, and achieved a milestone in the Lowman family that began in a historic movement more than 70 years earlier.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was a great need for additional military personnel. The country was pulled into World War II, and things began to drastically change.

The attack on Pearl Harbor changed my grandmother's life. She felt compelled to serve, but found herself limited in her options, as women could not yet serve in the armed services." - Ens. Amber Lowman

All of that was about to change with a movement allowing women to join the military, and Jean became a leader in that effort.

In college, Jean joined the civil service and worked for the Navy in human resources and personnel at Moffett Field, California. There was an urgent need for administration workers in Honolulu, so she and 19 other women moved there to work as civilian administrators, in a successful trial program that helped lead to the creation of the well-known Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service.

In 1942, the WAVES program was officially launched, allowing women to serve in the U.S. Naval Reserves, as both officer and enlisted.

"My grandmother spoke often to me about her time in Pearl Harbor and her contributions to the Navy," said Lowman. "She is my hero, and if she were here today, I would say 'thank you,' and mean it more than ever before."

In November 2015, while on her first underway as the main propulsion officer aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, Lowman received the unfortunate news that her grandmother had passed away.
Photo collage for Pride and Legacy.

"What I was sad about most, was the fact that I would not be able to call and tell her about all the exciting things I was doing," said Lowman. "I am living out her dream."

Although her grandmother didn't actually get to see her graduate, Lowman was able to spend some quality time with her grandmother afterward. They traveled to Washington, D.C., and Jean was able to see the World War II memorial for the first time.

"[We] took a photo in front of my favorite quote at the memorial," said Lowman.

"It says, 'women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women ... this was a people's war and everyone was in it.'" - ENS. Amber Lowman

Lowman said she believes the quote truly exemplifies the sacrifice made by her grandmother and many other women of her generation. She thanks her grandmother for living a life that opened the doors for so many and gave her the opportunity to serve her country, travel the world and lead the world's finest Sailors.

Read about one woman's story flying warplanes during World War II.

To learn more your Navy history, click here.