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Women in the Air Force: March celebrates women’s contributions to military then and now

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- March is Women’s History Month, and Travis joins the nation in recognizing the many contributions women have made while serving in the country’s military.

Following is a timeline of significant Air Force firsts for women:

June 12, 1948: Congress passes the Women’s Armed Service Integration Act, establishing Women in the Air Force.

July 8, 1948: Esther Blake becomes first woman to enlist in the Air Force

1968: The first Air Force woman is sworn into the Air National Guard with the passage of Public Law 90-130, which allows the ANG to enlist women.

May 5, 1970: Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps expands to include women after test programs at Ohio State, Drake, East Carolina and Auburn Universities prove successful in 1969.

March 2, 1971: The U.S. Air Force introduces a policy permitting women who become pregnant to remain on active duty or to return to duty within 12 months of discharge.

March 17, 1971: Jane Leslie Holley becomes the first woman commissioned through the AFROTC program. She graduated from Auburn University, Ala.

March 18, 1971: Capt. Marcelite C. Jordon becomes the first woman aircraft maintenance officer after completing the Aircraft Maintenance Officer School.

April 7, 1971: Second Lt. Susanne M. Ocobock becomes the first woman civil engineer in the Air Force and is assigned to Kelly Air Force Base, Texas.

July 16, 1971: Jeanne M. Holm, director of Women in the Air Force, became the first woman promoted to brigadier general.

Sep. 29, 1976: The first of two groups of women-pilot candidates enter undergraduate pilot training at Williams AFB, Ariz.

March 10, 1977: The first women navigator candidates report to Mather AFB, Calif., to begin undergraduate navigator training.

May 2, 1977: First Lt. Christine E. Schott becomes the first woman undergraduate pilot training student to solo in the T-38 Talon.

Sept. 2, 1977: The first class of women pilots graduates at Williams AFB.

Oct. 12, 1977: The first class of five U.S. Air Force women navigators graduates, with three of the five assigned to Military Airlift Command aircrews.

March 23, 1978: Capt. Sandra M. Scott, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, becomes the first woman tanker commander to perform alert duty for Strategic Air Command.

May 2, 1980: Second Lt. Mary L. Wittick is the first woman to enter the Air Force undergraduate helicopter pilot training program in Class 81-05.

May 28, 1980: For the first time, 97 women are among those receiving commissions as second lieutenants in graduation ceremonies at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Jan. 4, 1985: Maj. Patricia M. Young becomes the first woman commander of an Air Force Space Command unit - Detachment 1, 20th Missile Warning Squadron.

June 10, 1989: Capt. Jacqueline S. Parker became the first female pilot to graduate from U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School.

Jan. 13, 1993: U.S. Air Force Maj. Susan Helms, becomes the first U.S. military woman in space.

June 17, 1993: Lt. Col. Patricia Fornes assumes command of the 740th Missile Squadron at Minot AFB, N.D. She is the first woman commander of a combat missile squadron.

Aug. 6, 1993: Dr. Sheila E. Widnall is sworn in as Secretary of the Air Force, becoming the first woman armed services secretary.

May 6, 1994: First Lt. Leslie DeAnn Crosby graduates from the Air National Guard’s F-16 Fighting Falcon training course in Tucson, Ariz., becoming the first U.S. Air Force Reserve woman fighter pilot.

Feb. 10, 1994: Lt. Jeannie Flynn, the first woman selected for U.S. Air Force combat pilot training, completes training in an F-15E Eagle.

Feb. 3, 1995: U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eileen M. Collins becomes the first woman space shuttle pilot.

Calendar of events
Travis activities to promote Women’s History Month awareness, participation
Women’s History Month Committee

The Women’s History Month Committee, in conjunction with 60th Air Mobility Wing, is planning various activities during March to increase awareness and knowledge of the contributions women have made throughout history.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Women Change America” and we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of the multicultural women’s history movement as well as the 85th anniversary of the women’s right to vote in the United States.

Kick off luncheon

Friday — The Women’s History Month Kick-off Luncheon will be held at the Delta Breeze Club from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Festivities will include a silent auction and slideshow presentation depicting the women of Travis.

For more information, call Master Sgt. Abbey Carey at 424-3061.

Blood drive

March 14 — A blood drive will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. in the 60th Maintenance Group’s Atrium (Bldg. 31) and is sponsored by the Blood Centers of the Pacific. Snacks and drinks will be provided to all donors and the goal is to collect a minimum of 100 pints of blood.

For more information, call Airman Sutherland at 424-5360.

Bowling tournament

March 18 — The WHMC has reserved all 32 lanes of the Bowling Center for a tournament scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. There will be numerous drawings and chances to win great prizes.

For more information, call Senior Airman Bailey Sutherland at 424-5360.

Story hour

March 22 — Story time will be held for preschoolers at 9 a.m. with crafts at 9:30 a.m. An evening family story hour will also be held at 7 p.m. The WHMC has chosen three inspiring books to donate to the library that support the theme of “Women Changing America.” In addition, there will be a display throughout the month depicting this theme.

For more information, call Senior Airman Tiffany Sanchez at 423-3727.

Health Fair

March 23 — A women’s health fair will be held at the Family Support Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The fair will be held outside (weather permitting) and will have booths with information from the family advocacy and family support centers. Two relaxation stations will also be available for free massages courtesy of the Health and Wellness Center.

For more information, call Senior Master Sgt. Karin Ruliva at 423-5465.

Veterans home visit

March 29 — The WHMC will be taking a small group of volunteers to Yountville Veteran’s home for a visit with residents.

For more information, call Staff Sgt. Christopher Price at 424-7281.

Retreat ceremony

March 31 — The culmination of the month-long celebration will be a retreat ceremony at the base flag pole. The flight will consist of female personnel from different organizations on base. The USAF Band of the Golden West will perform the national anthem and Col. Lyn Sherlock, 60th A MW commander, will make closing comments.

For more information, call Staff Sgt. Leah Freedman at 424-7282.

Fundraising efforts will continue through the entire month as the WHMC will sell Bunny-Grams during various events. Proceeds from all fund-raising efforts will be donated to the Travis Fisher House.

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