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Stories From Main Street: Rockland County Honors Navy Veteran

NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Rockland County has saluted a local unsung hero.

Last week, the county presented its annual Freedom Award to Maureen Morgan, of Pomona, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1979-83.

"I was what they called a yeoman. I was a YN3, petty officer third class," she told WCBS 880's Sean Adams. "A yeoman is basically a secretary."

Stories From Main Street: Rockland County Honors Navy Veteran

There were fewer opportunities for women in the military back then.

"At the time I was in the Navy, women were not allowed in combat zones, and they were not allowed on ships," Morgan said. "So my sea duty was considered Hawaii."

Today, Morgan is a secretary at Spring Valley High School. She produces the school plays and keeps score for the football and the girls basketball teams. She also counsels students considering a career in the military.

"We had quite a few women who joined the military from Spring Valley High School," Morgan said. "We actually had one student -- she was No. 3 in the class -- who was accepted at Annapolis."

Times have changed. Women are climbing the ranks.

And so is Morgan.

Rockland's American Legion chose her to be the first woman to lead the county's organization.

"I was not expecting it," she said. "When they asked me to be county commander, I was a little surprised. But I took the job, and I hold it with pride."

"To have a woman out there who can actually speak some of the language where it's more relaxed for the young women coming back. It opens up yet another door," said Jerry Donnellan, director of the County of Rockland Veterans Service Agency.

Added Susan Branam, Donnellan's deputy director and a former Army captain: "We need women to be active, and we also need women to be trailblazers like she is by taking on positions of leadership."

Morgan said she doesn't seek recognition.

"I do it for the veterans," she said. "I do it for the students. I do it for the community."

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