Women's history is military history

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Jeanne Vogt
  • 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron superintendent
Having served for almost a quarter of a century in the Air Force, and having been a woman for almost twice that, I can honestly say this is a different Air Force than when I first joined. The "glass ceilings" that have been shattered by the women serving today and those that have gone before are truly amazing.

I have seen and been part of so many "firsts" in my career, things that others take for granted and think this is the way it's always been, but I know better. I know, because just in my time serving our country, I have seen the first woman pilot fly a combat sortie in a fighter aircraft and the first woman to command the space shuttle. These took determination and a new way of thinking for both men and women who believed; when any of us put on our uniform we are not men or women, we are servicemembers with a job to do and mission to accomplish, regardless of our anatomy. We have so many firsts
that have led to seconds, thirds, and on to become the way our military thinks - and these firsts just keep coming.

I was the first female satellite communications crew chief while assigned to the Joint Communications Support Element in the mid-nineties, a unit that has existed since 1965; since then, there have been many female crew chiefs. I was also the first enlisted female to receive the Cheney Award for Valor. This award has been given since 1927, predating even our Air Force. Only one other female has ever received this award, Lt. Regina Aune in 1975, who went on to become a colonel and is now retired. I was a technical sergeant when I received the award, and now I'm a chief master sergeant, so I guess you could say I am part of our history also.

Women throughout our military history have served with bravery, honor, and devotion. We have forged our path through action, showing that the old adage, "Women do not belong in combat," is an antiquated way of thinking. We now have more women serving in combat zones than any other time in history, and every day these women are proving themselves worthy of wearing the same uniform as our male counterparts. We've had women flying combat sorties, leading convoys, commanding units during combat operations, and providing front-line support during both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. We've also seen the first woman pilot give her life while
flying in a combat zone. It isn't just women's history - it's our military's history.

There are still so many more firsts that are just waiting to happen. I wonder when we will have our first female chief of staff, or our first female chief master sergeant of the Air Force. I wonder which female Airmen serving today will be taking on other firsts and shattering their own glass ceilings. This is our story, and what we do today will be the next generation's history. So many came before us and so many will come after, but all will become part of our history in time.