Celebrating Women’s History Month, Remembering Air Force women

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --

During the month of March, Women’s History Month, we celebrate successful women in our nation. I’d like to recognize women in the U.S. Air Force.

 

Women like Staff Sgt. Esther Blake, the first female to enlist in the newly formed Air Force on July 8, 1948, on the first hour of the first day when women were authorized to join.

 

As a clerk, Sergeant Blake opened the door of opportunity for women to be considered a part of the “mission” to end war and for a different perspective of women serving their country. Besides “holding down the fort” at the homestead, Blake busted through the limits and made the first step. In turn her first step became many women’s first step and those steps became leaps in the progression of women in the Air Force.

 

Today, women who aspire to enlist in the Air Force are no longer limited to clerical work.  Women can serve as pilots, security forces, civil engineers, medical technicians and more.  

 

The sky is the limit for women now that in late 2015, former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter declared all combat roles in the military to be open.

 

It is so amazing to me that women in the Air Force can achieve the “impossible.” They can serve in any job and obtain the highest rank as a commissioned officer or NCO.

 

This was proven on June 5, 2012 when retired Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger, who started her career in 1980 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, climbed her way to the top to be the very first woman promoted to four star general in the United States Air Force.

 

As a former active-duty vocalist, I was honored and privileged to witness and be a part of this moment in history at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  

 

The ceremony represented so much more to me than a star being put on her shoulder. It was a monumental moment that represented and marked a new era of time where in the Air Force no matter what obstacles a woman may face, it is “possible” to achieve the “impossible.”

 

During many band performances while serving on active duty, I would say “I wouldn’t be standing here on this stage with the rights, opportunities and freedoms I have if it were not for those who paved the way and made it possible for me to do so. And for that I’m thankful and I dedicate this to you.” That song was my way of paying back a debt and honor the wonder who served before me.

 

I was fortunate to have many opportunities during my 13 ½ years to give praise and celebrate accomplishments of so many influential woman in the Air Force--from command chiefs and four star generals to the fearless women serving overseas.

 

Instead of a song this time I dedicate this article to all women serving in the Air Force—past, present and future. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in a different way and give that same message.

 

God Bless America’s women of the Air Force!