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Ensign Jean Brandenburg


On this day in 1942, Ensign Jean Brandenburg of Bismarck reported for duty as North Dakota’s first female commissioned Naval officer and one of the first WAVES officers in the nation. Women had served in the Navy during World War I, but none as officers. That changed in July 1942, when Congress voted to re-allow large numbers of women into the Navy and to give female supervisors officer status. Back in North Dakota, Brandenburg — a biology and chemistry graduate of Jamestown College — decided the Navy might be for her. Soon she was in Chicago, competing with more than 50 other officer candidates. Only five or six passed muster, and Ensign Brandenburg was one of them. By the end of the World War II, 75,000 women enlisted as WAVES and among their leaders was Jean Brandenberg from land-locked North Dakota.

Written By: Cathy Jelsing


Bismarck Tribune, Sept. 29, 1942

Naval Historical Center, www.history.navy

Albany Institute of History & Art, www.albanyinstitute.org/exhibits/wwII.WAVES.htm