Glenda Rhodes-Hood and her service in Navy blazed trails for women in the military
“I had a ball in the Navy. And I think it was the best thing for me at the right time”
BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) - Breaking barriers for women in the 1970s and blazing trails for women in the military.
That’s the story of Glenda Rhodes-Hood and her service in the Navy.
“I had a lot of good experiences in the Navy. I was in the right place at the right time.”
The Bossier Parish native lives at the Bloom, where she spends her days visiting with friends and is known to be a fierce competitor in bingo.
Back in the day, Rhodes-Hood took a nontraditional path for women in the 1970s.
“I did not join the Navy until after college and after I’d had two children and divorced,” she explained. “The reason I joined the Navy is because I was making $150 a month at the bank; and when I got to the recruiter’s, I’d make twice what I was at the bank and have benefits.”
Rhodes-Hood was assigned the role of lithographer when she enlisted.
“I said ‘Great! What’s that?’”
Even though she joined the Navy for the pay and the chance to travel, it was made clear from the start that she wouldn’t be able to.
“Don’t ever ask to go to sea cause we’re not gonna let you go to sea.”
But through a class-action lawsuit led by one of her friends, and her exceptional performance and rapid rise in rank …
“But guess what? When I made chief, they put me to my first ship, the USS Dixon. And I was on two ships subsequent to that, the USS Acadia and USS Samuel Gompers.”
Rhodes-Hood excelled as a lithographer and continued to change the trajectory for women who came behind her. Until 1984, many positions in the Navy didn’t allow women to hold a high rank like chief.
But then came Rhodes-Hood and the rest of a group of remarkable women. “I was one of six females that made chief in nontraditional ranks.”
Her career in the Navy continued with many big moments.
Some good, like being voted enlisted sailor of the year.
Some not good, like being injured many times, resulting in several surgeries, including knee replacements.
And then some that were downright memorable, like her experience with Commander Smash Nash and the Blue Angels.
“While at Point Mugu in California, Commander Nash learned that my kids were in Louisiana. And his kids were in Mississippi. So he asked if I wanted to ride backseat and fly home. I flew seven times from Point Mugu, Calif., to Bossier City, Barksdale. And I loved it.”
During her enlistments, Rhodes-Hood’s former husband had full custody of their children. But she made sure that they had every opportunity to experience all the places she went.
“I just thought it was easier for them to stay in one place and have the same friends, and that worked out fine. Even though they got to come and spend summers with me in Hawaii and visit me in San Diego.”
Looking back at her career, her time as a lithographer and then helping troubled sailors during her time as an equal opportunity specialist and family advocate, Rhodes-Hood said she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I enjoyed my career. I had a ball in the Navy. And I think it was the best thing for me at the right time. I needed the discipline. I need the maturity! Even though I was 25 years old, I wasn’t grown up!”
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