Women Veterans in the Last Frontier
What is Operation Mary Louise?
Operation Mary Louise is an Alaska state-wide women veterans project to connect women veterans with resources in Alaska, to build the Alaska women veteran community, and to acknowledge and honor the achievements of women veterans in Alaska.
We Connect Women Veterans to Resources
Our resource page is a one-stop link to resources for women veterans in different regions throughout the state of Alaska. We have a variety of resources listed and are continually updating the list.
Who Was Mary Louise?
Mary Louise (Milligan) Rasmuson was the commandant of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) for six years and served from 1942-1962 in the Army. She was appointed as commandant by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957 and was the 5th commandant of the WAC. She was reappointed by President John F. Kennedy. Mary Louise was a tireless advocate for women in the military and to improve laws to ensure women veterans had access to benefits for their service. Her military awards include the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Occupation Medal, National Defense Medal and Legion of Merit award with two oak leaf clusters for her work integrating Black women into the WAC. After marrying Elmer Rasmuson and retiring from the Army after 20 years of service, she moved to Alaska and continued to serve and be an influential leader in our state and in the country. She died in 2012 at the age of 101.
Mary Louise’s work influenced generations of women veterans through the integration of Black women in the military, expanding job opportunities, and assisting in changing laws to ensure women veterans received service credit and benefits.
Mary Louise exemplified the ethics and values of leadership and her role in serving one’s country and community. As her obituary in The New York Times stated, she “helped expand the family’s support of civil rights, education and cultural life in Anchorage and beyond.”
Mary Louise was inducted into the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame posthumously in March of 2020 for all of her work in integrating the Women’s Army Corps and for advocating for and creating opportunities for women in the military.
Mary Louise greatly influenced the role of women in the military during her service. She expanded job roles for women into occupations that previously only allowed men.