Women Who Have Served: Molly Ludwig / Molly Pitcher

Molly Pitcher was born Mary Ludwig circa October 13, 1754, near Trenton, New Jersey. During the American Revolutionary War's Battle of Monmouth, she carried pitchers of water to soldiers, thereby earning her nickname. After her husband collapsed during the battle, she took over the operation of his cannon. Honored in 1822 for her bravery, she died in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on January 22, 1832.

In 1769, Molly married William Hayes in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During the American Revolutionary War, Hays enlisted as a gunner in the Continental Army. As it was common at the time for wives to be near their husbands in battle and help as needed, Pitcher followed Hays back to New Jersey during the war's Philadelphia Campaign (1777-78).

Hays fought in the Battle of Monmouth in Freehold, New Jersey, on June 28, 1778, a brutally hot day. His wife was present as well, and she made countless trips to a nearby spring to fill pitchers of cold water for soldiers to drink and to pour over their cannons to cool them down. 

As legend has it, the soldiers nicknamed her Molly Pitcher for her tireless efforts. But the legend only began with her new name. According to accounts, Pitcher witnessed her husband collapse at his cannon, unable to continue with the fight. She immediately dropped her water pitcher and took his place at the cannon, manning the weapon throughout the remainder of the battle until the Colonists achieved victory. According to the National Archives, there was a documented witness to Pitcher's heroic acts, who reported a cannon shot passing through her legs on the battlefield, leaving her unscathed: 

"While in the act of reaching a cartridge and having one of her feet as far before the other as she could stemp, a cannon shot from the enemey passed directly between her legs without doing any other damage than carrying away all the lower part of her petticoat. Looking at it with apparent unconcern, she observed that it was lucky it did not pass a little higher, for in that case it might have carried away something else, and continued her occupation (sic)."

With her actions on that day, Molly Pitcher became one of the most popular and enduring symbols of the women who contributed to the American Revolution.

Postwar Life

Pitcher remained with the Continental Army until the war ended, then moved back to Carlisle with Hays in April 1783. Following her husband's death, she married a war veteran named John McCauley and worked in the State House in Carlisle. She was honored by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1822 for her wartime services, receiving an award of $40 and an annual commission of the same amount for the rest of her life.

She died on January 22, 1832, in Carlisle, where a monument commemorates her heroic acts in battle.

If you are a women who has served or a man who has served with women, we would love to hear your story and share it with our supporters. Please email your story to us at noexceptions2016@gmail.com. No more than 300 words is needed. You can also follow us on social media or click the "Take Action" tab above.

Many thanks,

The No Exceptions Team



UPCOMING NO EXCEPTIONS EVENT: Ashley Hero Workout of the Day

No Exceptions is calling for all supporters to join us for the Ashley Hero workout of the day (WOD) at your local CrossFit box. This WOD honors all women who supported or served in combat specialties in Iraq and Afghanistan. These amazing women have fought and will continue to fight and defend our country. 

The military has finally opened all combat positions to women, but there's a loophole that threatens these opportunities. This policy gives the services—the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy—until January 1, 2016 to request exceptions to continue excluding women from these opportunities in the military. Today, almost 250,000 positions are effectively closed to women. 


On Saturday, October 3, 2015, join No Exceptions at your local box for the Ashley Hero WOD. Participate in a workout that symbolizes the commitment, dedication and strength that women like Ashley demonstrate every day.  #NoExceptions2016 #JustOneMoreRep #BePartofHistory

Please contact your local Crossfit box and join us on October 3rd!  If you are a CrossFit box interested in hosting, please sign up here. You can send your questions to noexceptions2016@gmail.com

Check back here on our blog in the following weeks for more details.

If you wish to donate to No Exceptions in honor of the event, click here.

See you at the box!

The No Exceptions Team




Two Servicewomen Pass the Army Ranger Course, Still Meet with Brass Ceiling

As part of the Secretary of Defense's policy, the Army has allowed women to enter the Ranger course. 19 women began the course this Spring. By the last phase of the course, two women continued to perform up to the highest expectations the Army has. Yesterday it was announced that two women will pass the Army's grueling Ranger Course: a historical event by all metrics. These two women will proudly be able to wear the distinguished Ranger tab, along with only the top 3 percent of Army personnel.

In the Army, this tab can play one of two roles. One, this qualifies you to enter into the 75th Ranger Regiment, a Special Operations unit. However, soldiers also go through the Ranger course to serve as a bona fides for their leadership abilities. In this sense, the Ranger Tab qualifies as professional development. Having this tab is likely to help a soldier when he or she is up for promotions. 

Even though these two women have passed the Ranger course, they will not be able to be considered for the 75th Ranger Regiment as their male colleagues will be. This is because the Ranger Regiment is a part of almost 250,000 military positions that remain closed to women by policy of the Department of Defense. However, the military is looking at opening these positions and the Secretary of Defense will make a final decision on January 1, 2016 as to whether or not these two women will be allowed to enjoy the same opportunities as their male colleagues. 

Please help us support these women and open up all military positions to the future of our force. Share your stories with us at noexceptions2016.com or click on the "Take Action" tab above.


The No Exceptions Team

Women Who Have Served: Deborah Sampson/Robert Shurtleff

Deborah Sampson was born on December 17, 1760. When she was 20 years of age, she was a part time teacher. She decided to join the war effort. But not like other women of the time. Deborah sewed a suit of men’s clothes, left her farm, and walked 30 miles to Middleborough, MA where she enlisted in Captain George Webb’s Light Infantry Company, 4th Regiment, MA Continental line. She enlisted under the name Robert Shurtleff. Her regiment marched to West Point to protect the Hudson Highlands from the British who occupied New York City at the time. There were numerous war engagements near the Tappan Zee.

Eventually, she received a sabre wound across the left side of her head. Because she was worried about being discovered, she refused to go to the hospital and tended to the wound herself. Weeks later, she was hit in the thigh by a musket ball. She attempted to clean the musket ball out of her thigh with her pen knife.

Sampson's gender was eventually discovered, and General George Washington was advised.  On October 25, 1783, Deborah Sampson was honorably discharged and letters of testimony of her gallantry in combat were presented for her by several generals. 

Our history is filled with stories of bravery like Deborah Sampson's. On January 1, 2016, the Department of Defense has a unique opportunity to honor these women by opening all military positions to women–No Exceptions.

If you are a women who has served or a man who has served with women, we would love to hear your story and share it with our supporters and decision makers within the Department of Defense. Please email your story to us at noexceptions2016@gmail.com. No more than 300 words is needed. You can also follow us on social media or click the "Take Action" tab above.

Many thanks!

The No Exceptions Team


Congressional Research Service Report on Women in Combat

Last month the Congressional Research Service, Congress’s in-house think tank, published a historical view of the Department of Defense’s evolution of policies limiting women’s ability to serve in the combat positions in the military. This report gives a great overview of the issues and events leading up to Secretary Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey removed the combat exclusion act and gave the military departments until January 1, 2016 to develop gender-neutral standards, study issues relating to full gender inclusion, and provide recommendations to the Secretary of Defense.

The report highlights the fact that women have been defending our country since our Revolutionary War, and have paid the ultimate sacrifice many times over. During Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, over 161 women have been killed in action and over 1,015 women have been wounded in action. And because of the nature of both of these operations, many women have found themselves serving in combat roles.  The Army has recognized this and given over 9,000 women Army Combat Action Badges for ‘actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy.’ In addition to this, two service women have received Silver Stars for ‘gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.’

The report details the military's hesitancy to recognize the contributions women have made to defend our country. The military's policies towards women have been ad hoc and unclear, all the while resulting in a culture that has required service women to continually and repeatedly prove their worth to the military. Women have always wanted to serve and protect their country to their best ability, but have been kept from reaching their full potential because of outdated policies. Fortunately, Secretary Carter has a chance to remedy what decades of Secretaries before him have been unable to do.

Please help us support the Secretary’s decision to open all military operational specialties to women—No Exceptions. Sign our change.org petition here or follow us on social media. You can also subscribe for updates to the "Take Action" tab above.

Many thanks!

The No Exceptions Team


Welcome to the No Exceptions blog!

Welcome to the No Exceptions blog: Read Up.

Here we will bring you all of the information regarding our efforts to encourage the Department of Defense to open all military combat positions to women--no exceptions.

Today, there are almost 250,000 positions that women are banned from serving in. We will use this blog to give you weekly updates on all progress and events surrounding women in combat and No Exceptions.

One of our goals is to tell the stories of women who have served and men who have served with women. If you would like to share your story with us and our supporters, please email your story (no more than 300 words is necessary) to us at noexceptions2016@gmail.com.

And for updates from us, click the "Take Action" tab at the top right and sign up under the "Keep Up" section.

Many thanks!

The No Exceptions Team