With war movies all the rage again (see: Hacksaw Ridge and Dunkirk) one can only imagine that the all-female war movie is being fast-tracked as we speak. I mean, hell, we did get a female Ghostbusters, didn't we? But, fact is, much like A League of Their Own, there are stories that can be told and, what's more, deserve to be told. I don't know if there was ever any Tom Hanks-esque General who had to utter the words, "There's no crying in war," but I do know that there have been some badass women war heroes that many people don't know a darn thing about—both from long ago and some much more recently. They include the following.
1. Marine 1st Lt. Rebecca Turpin: During a six-month deployment to Afghanistan from late 2008 to mid 2009, then-2nd Lt. Rebecca Turpin led supply convoys. One particular mission earned her the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a valor device, and she is one of the few women to ever receive it. Her convoy came under heavy fire in a small village and she called in a pair of Cobra helicopters, directing the air support to protect the convoy, dispersing the threat. But the insurgents reappeared and Turpin directed the machine gunners and Cobras, escaping with her convoy while also, ya know, completing the mission.
2. Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester: Hester led a counterattack against insurgents who had ambushed her convoy while serving in Iraq, thus becoming the first of only two women to earn a Silver Star since World War II. At one point she left her vehicle to engage the insurgents on foot. Hester and her fellow soldier eliminated them one by one using grenades and assault rifles. At the end of the engagement, 27 insurgents were killed, six wounded and one captured. Christopher Nolan should direct.
3. Army Pfc. Monica Lin Brown: Assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division as a combat medic in Afghanistan’s southeastern Paktika province in late April 2007, Brown became the first woman to earn the Silver Star in Afghanistan, and just the second since World War II, after Hester.
4. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lori Hill: Hill engaged a determined enemy while piloting her OH-58 Kiowa helicopter in Iraq and became the first woman to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism. Get this—she drew fire away from the lead chopper while also providing suppressive fire for the ground troops below. Then, a rocket-propelled grenade hit and damaged her helicopter, but she continued to provide support to the troops on the ground until they reached safety. After getting shot in one of her ankles, Hill then piloted her damaged aircraft back to the forward operating base, saving her crew and aircraft. I'm feeling Jessica Chastain for this role.
5. Ruby Bradley: Going farther back, though you'd be hard-pressed to find any of these stories in many high school history books, Bradley is actually one of the most decorated women in United States military history. She was captured by the Japanese army three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, later earning the title "Angels in Fatigues" from fellow captives, along with other imprisoned nurses. She ultimately returned to the United States in 1945, weighing an astonishing 86 pounds.
6. Hannie Schaft: A Dutch communist resistance fighter during World War II, she became known as the girl with the red hair. Her secret name in the resistance movement was Hannie. A book and film have been produced here, and why wouldn't they? After World War II, the remains of 422 members of the resistance were found, 421 men and one woman: Hannie Schaft.
7. Susan Travers: Susan Travers was an Englishwoman who was the only woman to serve officially with the French Foreign Legion. A nurse and ambulance driver in WWII, she later went on to serve in Vietnam! In 2000, at the tender age of 91, she wrote her autobiography, Tomorrow to Be Brave: A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion, having waited for all the other principals in her life story to die before writing it. It's called moxie, boys.
8. Nancy Wake: Meet Nancy Grace Augusta Wake. Yes, the original Nancy Grace. OG! She served as a British Special Operations Executive agent during the later part of World War II, and became a leading figure during the French Resistance. She was one of the Allies' most decorated servicewomen of the war. After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo's most wanted person.
9. Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak: A fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Force during World War II, here's her deal: 12 solo victories, minimum, and at least four shared kills over a total of 66 combat missions, over about two years of missions, she was the first female fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy plane, the first female fighter pilot to earn the title fighter ace, and she is the holder of the record for the greatest number of kills.
10. Elsie Ott: This is the first woman to receive the U.S. Air Medal. Ott was assigned to the first evacuation flight with only 24 hours notice—and she had never flown before. Ott wrote up a report on that flight, recommending important changes for further evacuation flights. Basically, she changed the game, and it was the first time she'd ever played it.