BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The first-ever female B-52 squadron commander in the Air Force made history when she took command of the 96th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Operations Group at Barksdale Air Force Base back in April 2022, but Lt. Colonel Vanessa “Lana” Wilcox says her true legacy will come from serving others.
“I don’t like to focus on the fact that I am the first female because I think that takes away from the people in my squadron. It is about them and my opportunity to serve them, “said Lt. Col. Wilcox. “That’s the legacy I want, is building those future generations to fill in and to eventually be the leaders the Air Force needs.”
Born in Ohio, Lt. Col. Wilcox has served in the military for 17 years, which she believes has prepared her for this opportunity. She’s also been stationed at the Barksdale Air Force Base since 2006.
“For me being in the Air Force, every job that I’ve had has been an opportunity that has helped me see the Air Force as a whole. Prior to this position, I was working as one of the deputies for the mission support groups on base. So, with that, I got to interact with all of the agencies on base who support and directly impact the ability to execute the B-52 mission every day.”
Lt. Col. Wilcox is a mother of two young daughters. While she is breaking glass ceilings, she credits her mother as she balances parenting and leading the 96th Bomb Squadron.
“It’s not a balance. It is 100 percent an all-hands-on-deck game. I have full support and help from my mom who happens to live in town. She was nice enough to move to Louisiana from Ohio. They are fully ingrained, and love being a military family.”
The 96th was founded in 1918 as the 96th Aero Squadron. Today, the men and women of the 96th known as the Red Devils maintain the heritage of “First to Bomb” and provide worldwide combat capability with the force of B-52 aircraft, aircrews, and supporting operation personnel.