Women’s History Month: Honoring Airmen past and present

  • Published
  • By SSgt Alex Caraballo
  • 366th Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity
Everyday women continue to make great contributions to our society and make history in our military.

Today, over 100,000 women serve our Air Force and continue to honor our country and those who have served in the past with their accomplishments.

The following women continue to inspire Airmen as they go through their military careers:

Esther Blake was the first woman to enlist in the Air Force. She enlisted on the first minute of the first hour, July 8, 1948. This was the first day that regular AF duty was authorized for women.

Since then, women have served all across the globe in support of various operations.

In 1993, Sheila Widnall became the first female Secretary of the Air Force and the first woman to lead a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
This same year, Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, became the first female fighter pilot as a Lieutenant.

In 1999, Lt. Col. Shawna Kimbrell made Air Force history by becoming the first African-American Female pilot as a Lieutenant.

In 2012, Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger became the first woman to achieve the rank of four-star general in the Air Force.

In 2017, Tech. Sgt. Courtney became the Air Force’s first female enlisted pilot.

Women at Mountain Home Air Force Base have made an impact as well.

Lt. Col. Staci “Rio” Landers, 366th Fighter Wing deputy chief of staff, is the highest ranking female weapons system officer (WSO) at Mountain Home Air Force Base. Her father was a pilot which is where her interests in flying initially began. She is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and credits her work-ethic and the support of other Airmen as factors that have helped her become who she is today. She credits women like Lt. Col. Christine Mau as her inspiration to pursue her family life and her flying career. Landers believes that women today have the ability to do anything they set their mind to. She encourages women to not limit themselves on what they think is possible.

The rank of Chief Master Sergeant is earned by the top one percent of our enlisted personnel.

Chief Master Sgt. Jennifer Cirricione, 366th Fighter Wing A-staff superintendent, is currently the only female chief assigned to the installation. Cirricione spoke on the adversities she faced early on in her enlisted career as parachute rigger. One of her first supervisors told her that women did not belong in the military. This comment encouraged her to excel in her career field and later became a First Sergeant. She believes Women’s History Month is a time to look back and be grateful for the achievements of women who helped pave the way for opportunities available today. Cirricione acknowledges adversity as a routine part of growing. She wants others to know that if a person does their job well and follows the core values, someone will notice their hard work and they will succeed.

Civilian personnel are equally important to today’s mission.

Andrea Porter, 366th Fighter Wing Contracting Squadron director of business operations, is one of the highest ranking civilians on the installation. She has been with the federal government for 13 years and credits her success to good commanders and leaders recognizing her work. Ms. Porter had a difficult time finding work as a military spouse due to her spouse receiving orders. She believes Women’s History Month is a time to reflect and remember that opportunity was not always available to women.

Ms. Porter believes women should do three things to progress their career:

(1) Look for opportunities

(2) Take care of their aptitude

(3) Have the right attitude

From some of the highest ranking women on the base to the newest, the future of the Air Force is bright.

Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Reyes, 366th Force Support Squadron re-enlistments technician, says she has enjoyed her experience in the service so far. Reyes appreciates the hard work and sacrifices made by the women before her. These accomplishments have shown her what is possible and they inspire her to strive for more.

From women like Esther Blake to those still making history today, the accomplishments of women go beyond just breaking gender stereotypes. Women have overcome outstanding odds in male-dominated professions. Acknowledging their achievements reminds us that everyone regardless of age, rank, ethnicity or gender can be great and lead a life of success.

Thank you, ladies, for everything you’ve given to this generation and the next.

Fly Fight Win!