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"I had to work very, very hard, and I always said I had to be better than my counterpart. It wasn’t enough to be just as good." (Audio interview, 22:06)

   Katharine Lenora Laughton
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War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Persian Gulf War, 1991
Branch: Navy
Service Location: Vietnam; also: Persian Gulf
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As a college graduate facing limited employment opportunities, Rear Admiral Katharine Laughton was drawn to what the Navy offered her: equal pay for equal work. Trained in communications, she served in Vietnam as well as stateside in recruitment, which was often a hazardous prospect during an era of frequent anti-war demonstrations. Following her service in Vietnam, she served in high-ranking positions at the Pentagon, for the Navy Inspector General, and in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War—eventually becoming one of the first women to be selected as a flag officer.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (9 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (29 min.)
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back Part 4
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (9 items)
Service in recruiting during Vietnam; outline of service during Persian Gulf. (01:26) Anecdote about how she learned about the Navy as an option for employment (01:05) Responsibilities during Vietnam; working in communications; recruiting duty; facing demonstrators on college campuses. (02:04)
Appeal of military career because it promised equal pay for equal work, which was a rarity. (00:33) Service after Vietnam at the Pentagon; working as the Navy’s protocol officer; part of the first group of women to be screened for command; taking command of the Navy space command. (01:52) Assignment to the new data automation command; working with the Navy Inspector General (IG); selected for flag officer. (01:29)
Service during Persian Gulf War; stationed in Saudi Arabia; as a woman, not allowed into joint command center in Riyadh. (02:01) Her time spent in the military was one of tremendous change; facing resistance to her service; working hard to prove herself. (03:40) Belief of importance of service in the military, and of giving back to one’s country; opinion that women can and should serve on equal terms as men. (03:10)

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  October 26, 2011
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