Navy gives female admiral window into history

By Elizabeth Hill

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The highest-ranking woman in the Navy visited Tucson last week to talk about her experiences in the service.

Rear Admiral Marsha Evans said her visit is part of a nationwide tour of Navy recruiting centers. Her assignment is Commander, U.S. Navy Recruiting Command.

"I'm finding out what's happening at the local level," she said.

Evans entered the Navy 26 years ago. "I joined on a whim. I never intended to make it a career," she said.

She joined to have an adventure, she said. "I saw a picture of a woman officer."

Evans said she wanted to go to graduate school, but instead enlisted in the Navy for two years.

After the two years she was offered a position in Japan and after seven years the Navy gave her enough money to go to graduate school, where she studied international politics.

Some of Evans' assignments put her in the middle of history. "Traveling around Iran before the Shah was overthrown was very exciting," she said. During that time Evans also helped evacuate Americans out of Iran.

Evans was also the Senior Navy Social Aide the last full year of Richard Nixon's presidency, and the first year of Gerald Ford's. "I saw first-hand what life was like during Watergate," she said.

Evans was Executive Director of the Standing Committee on Military and Civilian Women in the Department of the Navy in August 1992.

After the Tailhook sexual harassment scandal, the committee was set up for education and training of Navy personnel. Evans said the committee investigated "how they (Navy personnel) can feel more comfortable reporting harassment and discrimination."

Evans said they set up a hot line so men could call to ask any questions they might have regarding what is or isn't harassment.

"There have been measures to make sure it won't happen again," Evans said. "As a result of Tailhook the Navy is a vastly different place."

Lieutenant Paula Coughlin, the woman who exposed the happenings at the Tailhook convention, resigned from the Navy recently.

"I was saddened," Evans said. "She felt she was in an untenable situation. She definitely has left the Navy a better place."

However, there are still news articles that don't focus on the changes made since Tailhook.

"It's unfortunate that they focus on the incident not the changes," she said.

"We have taken that situation, as awful as it was, and tried to learn from it," Evans said.

Read Next Article