In 1944 Esther Blake (b. 1897) gave up her civilian career and enlisted in the Women's Army Corps (WACs). Her motivation to enlist in the military was related to the fact that both her sons were in the military fighting the war in Europe. Her oldest son, Julius flew B-17 bombers from England and her younger son Tom served on B-25 medium bombers in Italy.
After a brief retirement from the military, Blake re-enlisted and served at Ft. McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia. On September 18, 1947 the United States Air Force was officially created as a separate service branch within the armed forces structure. On July 8, 1948 Esther McGowin Blake became the first woman in the United States Air Force.
Sgt. Blake finally retired from military service in 1954. She went to work for the U.S. Civil Service at the Veterans Regional Headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama. Mrs. Blake passed away in Montgomery on October 17, 1979.
On October 1, 1987, Blake Hall, a dormitory at the USAF's Senior NCO Academy, was dedicated in memory and in honor of the “first woman in the United States Air Force."