GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Celebrating the long, storied history of women serving in the Navy began nearly 100 years ago when then Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels announced women would be eligible to enlist. Sailors commemorated that moment at an event at the Surface Warfare Officers School Command Unit (SWOSU) Great Lakes, March 27.
Speaking to the group, Fleet Master Chief (AW/SW) April D. Beldo, the fleet master chief for Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education (MPT&E), said, "We are here to celebrate us. It is our time."
Beldo is the lone woman serving as a fleet master chief currently in the Navy. She also acknowledged the other women who came before her and those that currently serve as senior leaders.
"They were women who had aspirations to be part of something bigger than themselves," Beldo said. "Because of their trailblazing it has made it possible for me to do what it is I do today and be selected in the position that I am in."
She also noted the struggle of being a woman Sailor and said she took solace in knowing that others have walked that same path and pushed through challenges to make great achievements.
"I know there were times when someone probably told them that they couldn't do it. But they persevered. They didn't allow anyone or anything stand in their way," Beldo said.
There have been many strides toward equality in service for women in the last quarter centry, but the one hurdle that remains is one Beldo said she sees the light at the end of that tunnel.
"We are collaborating efforts today and we will witness our first female enlisted Sailors walk across the submarine quarterdecks in the summer of 2016," she said.
The SWOSU Commanding Officer Cmdr. David Dwyer, said events like this, which honor the history of women in service, are important and he challenged those in attendance to continue the progress.
"Think about where you're at, who you have served with and spend a little bit of time thinking about how far we've come, but think about the hard work we have to move forth. We're not done," he said.
For more news from Training Support Center, Great Lakes, visit www.navy.mil/local/tscgl/.