Retired Navy captain recalls when women weren't allowed to serve on ships

Wasn't until 1993 that Congress approved women to serve on combat ships

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – On this Veterans Day we honor those who are fighting on the front lines to keep us safe - many whom are women.

Among the branches that help in the fight against terror, is the Navy but it wasn't until 1993 that Congress approved women to serve on combat ships.

"At that point in time the women couldn't go on ships. I was a little ahead of that wave so I didn't have that opportunity," retired Navy Capt. Kim Drury said. Drury served in the Navy for 25 years from 1978 to 2003. She recalled there weren't many positions available for women back then.

"You had limited jobs, you know, you were -- I don't want to say stereotyped but you were pigeonholed into certain jobs," the 64-year-old said. "Right then we were 2 percent of the Navy. That was all for women and the number of officers was even less."

The Central Florida native began as an anti submarine warfare officer for the Navy.

"Our goal was to track Russian submarines. I did that for a number of years and when you're in that field you're in very remote locations," Drury said.

Eventually her management skills moved her up the ranks to captain. A position that took her to important events like the time she participated in the commissioning of a city in Wales where she met Queen Elizabeth II.

" I literally got introduced to her and that was a political challenge in that the military typically does a bow to the queen but I'm female so you should do a curtsy," she said.

After some discussion with the British military, it was agreed she would represent the uniform and do a bow.

"I think part of that is they knew I couldn't curtsy well," she said with a laugh.

Among the places she was stationed was Croatia- an experience that left her with some of the best memories.

"I was the U.S. Military liaison to the Croatian military and I had a team of five guys and our goal there was to transition them towards NATO membership," Drury said. "I interacted with other militaries, including like Slovakia and Russia and all of them, and we were at a gathering one time and I'm in my uniform and they're in their uniform and we're all laughing because the guys and my special being undersea warfare had a chest insignia and it looks very much like the Navy SEALs and it's not but it looks like it, and the guys kept looking at it and staring and looking at it and they're like kind of 'whooa' and I finally said, 'Pretty impressive, huh?' I wouldn't tell them I wasn't Navy SEAL and they were all like 'yeahhh' and the Russian guy in particular said, 'No wonder we can't win.'"

It's been 16 years since she retired and as we honor our veterans, Drury reflects on those who can't be with their families on this day.

"I think of the kids today and it chokes me up. It hurts me for people to thank me for my service and they don't get the opportunity to get thanked 'cause they're over there right now. It's about the people who have to be out front. You really need to thank the people who are right out front."

About the Author: