Jeanne Holm, 88, who opened doors for women in the military as the first female general in the Air Force and the first woman in any military branch to reach the rank of two-star general, died Feb. 15 of cardiovascular disease at Anne Arundel (Md.) Medical Center. She lived in Edgewater, Md.
From 1965 to 1975, Holm was the highest-ranking woman in the Air Force, which had been resistant to accepting women in its ranks. Women were not allowed to fly and, except for nurses, were not permitted near the front lines during wartime.
Almost from the moment she was appointed director of a small corps called Women in the Air Force in 1965, Holm strategically advanced the role of women while fighting tactical battles with an entrenched male power structure.
"I can say in absolute candor and honesty that we wouldn't have women in the Air Force without Jeanne Holm," Air Force Brig. Gen. Jean E. Klick said in 1990.
Holm enlisted in the Army in 1942, re-enlisted in 1948 and transferred to the Air Force a year later. She had planning roles in the Berlin Airlift, was assigned to NATO in Italy in the 1950s and had long stints at the Pentagon.
When Holm retired in 1975, her decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. Survivors include a brother.
- The Washington Post