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From spies to factory workers to bomber pilots to snipers, women filled all kinds of essential roles during wartime, and the courage, skill, and determination of these fifteen amazing women ranks them among the baddest asses of them all.
1. Virginia Hall — Allied Spy
The Nazi secret police organization the Gestapo once labeled her as the most dangerous of Allied spies, and she appeared on wanted posters with a reward offered a reward for her death.
Her codename was Germaine, her alias was Brigitte LeContre, but her real name was Virgina Hall, and she was truly badass.
Did we mention she also only had one leg?
Originally an American diplomat, her intelligence, moxie, and ability to speak five languages made her the idea spy. The British recruited her and sent her into France under the cover or being a journalist.
She spent over a year operating in German-occupied Vichy France, and along with her wooden leg she’d nicknamed Cuthbert, Hall did everything you would expect from a superspy: she blew up bridges, helped downed Allied pilots, recruited resistance fighters, organized jailbreaks, and generally raised the badass bar to the highest level.
Then her cover was blown, and after escaping to Spain and then home again, the Americans sent her back to Paris where she spent a few more years operating under cover.
After the war, she was recruited into the fledgeling CIA where despite her experience and success as a field agent, she was slotted into the usual role held by women at the time: a desk job.
2. Jacqueline Cochran — Aviator
She may be best known as the first woman to break the sound barrier, but Jacqueline Cochran did a whole lot more than that. She originally learned to fly as a way to be more competitive with her beauty products business, but aviation soon became her passion and she became a successful air racer.
When WWII broke out, she proposed creating a women’s flying division, and after being the first woman to fly a bomber over the Atlantic, she became the first director of the Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) program.
Stationed in England, she trained female pilots for the duration of the war, earning the US Distinguished Service Medal for her efforts.
After the war, she continued to fly and race, setting new records all the time. After breaking the sound barrier, she worked with NASA to test the feasibility of women as astronauts in the Mercury space program.