In April 1781, Deborah Sampson enlisted in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment of Foot as Pvt. Robert Shurtleff.

During her service, she witnessed Lord Cornwallis' capture at Yorktown, was wounded at Tarrytown, skirmished with Tory loyalists, dug trenches, helped storm a British redoubt, endured cannon fire, and fought the Iroquois League in New York. When she was shot in the thigh during an ambush, she treated the wounds herself rather than risk having her gender discovered by doctors.

Her secret eventually came out, however, and on Oct. 23, 1783, “Shurtleff” received an honorable discharge. Sampson went on to marry a farmer named Benjamin Gannet. After her death, Gannet petitioned Congress for a pension as the survivor of a wounded veteran.

A letter from the Congressional Committee on Revolutionary Pensions dated Dec. 22, 1837, granting his petition, described Sampson as “a female who took up arms in (defense) of her country, who served as a common soldier for nearly three years, and fought and bled for human liberty.”

National Vietnam War Veterans Day ceremony at Maine State House

Please join the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services in observing National Vietnam War Veterans Day and celebrating the service of Maine's Vietnam veterans. On Friday, March 29, at 1 p.m., MBVS, along with the Maine Army National Guard and Gov. Janet Mills, will host a ceremony in the Hall of Flags at the State House to honor Maine's veterans.

Vietnam veterans will be recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation and a Vietnam War Service Coin. In advance of the March 29 ceremony, we encourage Mainers who wish to honor a friend or family member killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War to submit a copy of their favorite photograph with a brief remembrance of their loved one, which will be displayed the day of the event.

Please mail submissions by March 22 to Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services, 117 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0117. (Note that submissions will not be returned, so please do not submit any originals).

Parking is limited, and all attendees must be screened by Capitol Police, so please allow plenty of time to arrive for the 1 p.m. ceremony. For more information and registration information, please contact Sara Sherman at 430-5816 or

Joy Asuncion is a retired U.S. Navy veteran, an Honor Flight Maine board member, a Maine Troop Greeter and the Maine State Ambassador for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Washington, D.C.  You can reach Joy at 930-5640 or