CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Sparkling City by the Sea holds the first aircraft carrier in United States Naval history to have women stationed aboard as crew members. The U.S.S. Lexington made this happen in the 1980s.
However, women have been making waves serving in the Navy for more than a century.
In 1908, a group called the Sacred Twenty became the first set of females to serve in the Navy Nurse Corps.
"The Nurse Corps. at the time, they did not have rank, and they did not get paid. But they were expected to serve, but they volunteered, and they did a great job." said Steven Banta, the Lexington Museum's executive director.
The Sacred Twenty is just one of many stories that will be showcased in the Lexington Museum's upcoming exhibit featuring women of the Navy.
It's currently under construction, but Banta said 1,800 square feet of space on the ship will be transformed. The opening date was scheduled for December 2022, however, due to shortages, it is expected to open in the summer of 2023.
"This is going to be state of the art. This is going to be high-tech. This is going to be interactive." he said. "It's going to be an inspiration for people to walk through and I want people, the families, and their kids when they bring them through, come through and they can be inspired and say, hey, maybe I want to do that."
Banta said it's important to highlight and remember leading ladies who struggled for equality to serve on ships. He said they paved the way for generations of women.
"We don't want to highlight it like it's separate. But we want to make sure people know the story because it's important that they're serving, but it wasn't always that way." the executive director explained.
The military is still a field dominated by men. However, according to Rockport resident Katy Jackson, when she was in the Navy, she was first and foremost a sailor and often felt like one of the guys.
"I've been one of the guys since I was like 5 years old. I'm a tomboy. So for me, it's easy," said Katy.
Katy has 26 years of service under her belt. With a degree in physics, she brought her skills to the Navy and worked with electronics. Over the years, having boarded four ships in total, Jackson collected many memories in the shape of photos, certificates, coins, and medals.
"We took care of radio systems and radar systems. We were a very integral part of the ship being able to complete its mission," she said. "I was the first female enlisted sailor on board U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln to qualify for junior officer on the deck on the way, and that's a big deal because you're the one who tells the helmsman what to do with this 1,115-long ship. And that was a big highlight of my career."
One might think a calling to join the military is a Jackson family tradition. While Katy comes from a long line of people who were members of the military, another local with the same last name but no relation had her turn serving in the Navy in 1995.
"To be honest, at the time, I was a little naive about the U.S. military. It means something different to me right now. As an 18-year-old, it meant an education and possibilities for a future." said Kristy Jackson, a resident of the Coastal Bend.
Young Kristy Jackson wasn't wrong about those possibilities. She served for five years on active duty as a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman.
"I'm really proud that I had to do everything from a surgery setting, inpatient setting, to, you know every day sick calls all the way to delivering a baby and responding on an ambulance. I think I had a lot of opportunities that made me who I am today," said the Navy Veteran.
The two women KRIS 6 News spoke with went from serving the country to serving their local communities.
Katy Jackson is currently a Rockport City Council Member.
She's also the Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3905, an organization that provides support for men and women in the military. She said her post could have the largest number of females within their district.
Kristy Jackson is a real estate broker, but she also gives back to the veterans in the community, paying homage in the name of our country's stars and stripes.