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SD WWII veteran witnesses 1st woman to lead U.S. armed forces branch

Gena Fischle
Gena Fischle and Adm. Linda Fagan
Gena Fischle
Posted at 4:18 PM, Jun 01, 2022

Adm. Linda Fagan became the first woman to lead a branch of the U.S. military when she was sworn in as commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard at a sunny ceremony in Washington on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden, who nominated Fagan to the post in April, spoke at the change of command event at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, calling it "a new milestone in our history" and "a big deal."

Meantime, sitting in the seventh row was a familiar face to San Diego County. World War II veteran Gena Fischle was invited to witness the historic ceremony.

Gena Fischle

Fischle joined the Coast Guard in 1944 and spent 2.5 years in the military, saying she would have stayed in longer but women were told their services were no longer needed after the war.

Fischle told ABC 10News she wanted to get her ceremony invitation signed by Adm. Linda Fagan. Welp, she did!

Fagan wrote "Gena, thank you for your service. All the best!"

Gena Fischle

Fagan will soon be the first woman to take a seat at the table of the U.S. Joint Chiefs -- representing all branches of the military -- and she comes equipped with nearly 40 years in the service, on par with the officers she will be joining.

Notably, Fagan's daughter, Aileen, is also a Coast Guard lieutenant and was present at Wednesday's ceremony.

RELATED: Local veteran invited to witness first female assume command of a military branch

ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.