BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As it has since 2016, Air Force Global Strike Command recognizes Women’s History Month by coordinating all-female alert crews to dispatch to the missile field, and all-female bomber crews at some of its bases.
This year, all three intercontinental ballistic missile wings are posting women to the field on alert for International Women’s Day today.
In addition, bases across the command will have all-female command post teams, maintenance teams, and helicopter and security forces crews as well.
It’s been 112 years when the Wright Brothers delivered the first airplane to the U.S. Signal Corps for $30,000 kicking off the military’s love story in the sky, but for the first 67 years, only men flew the airplanes.
Then, in 1975, then Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David C. Jones, announced a test program that would allow women to enter pilot training, and on Sept. 26, 1976, 10 woman alongside 35 male classmates began undergraduate pilot training (UPT) at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, and the rest is history.
The women accumulated more than 210 hours in the T-37 Tweetie Bird and T-38 Talon, clearing the way for future generations of women to not only fly and command every aircraft the U.S. Air Force owns, but to also become test pilots and even astronauts
So, as of January 2020, those first 10 female pilots had paved the way for U.S. Air Force 806 women who serve as pilots, 347 navigators and 233 air battle managers, according to Air Force’s Personnel Center officials, and women made up 21% of the U.S. Air Force.
“It is important for us to recognize the important role women play in our military today, and International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to do that,” said Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing Commander.
“When I came in 27 years ago, we would have barely been able to put together a couple of female crews, and now we are doing it across all three missile wings as well as some of our bomber wings as well,” Opperman said.
We want the American public to know that women directly support our mission every day.”
Women’s History Month commemorates the vital role of women in American history and its future.
From manning the home front during the world wars to propelling suffragettes to demand the right to vote, women’s contributions in society have been – and are – constantly evolving.
Posting female crews has become an annual tradition at AFGSC as a way to recognize the contributions women make to the command and its mission.