Honoring history, rewriting expectations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rachel Loftis
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing

In 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York, the first women's rights convention was held. After two days of discussion and debate a total of 68 women and 32 men signed a document called the Declaration of Sentiments. This document would outline the problems that would pave the road for the women's rights movement.

The month of March marks the celebration of Women’s History and the recognition of International Women’s Day. Women’s History Week began in March 1981 initially as a week-long celebration. Six years later, in 1987, Congress passed a proclamation designating the entirety of March as Women’s History Month.

Since the beginning of the women’s rights movement, there have been many pivotal female role models and firsts that paved the way for women’s history today. Women of the 193rd Special Operations Wing are among them.

Women of the 193rd SOW have been rewriting expectations since 1957 when Lt. Irene Svedaba became the first nurse and again in 1970 when (retired) Master Sgt. Milley Clay became the first enlisted female in the unit. But the lineage of women’s firsts in the 193rd SOW doesn’t stop there. Over the last 60 years, the 193rd SOW has acquired many more of these firsts ranging from the first female air technician, recruiter, command chief, pilot, aircraft mechanic, squadron commander, group commander, and first sergeant.

Amongst these firsts is Pennsylvania Air National Guard State Command Chief Master Sgt. Regina Stoltzfus. Stoltzfus has more than 34 years of military service. She became the first female assigned as the wing command chief master sergeant. She has since continued on to become the first woman to serve as the state command chief.

Additionally, (retired) Lt. Col. Amy Crossley, became the first female appointed to the role of commander to the 193rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron in 2016. With Col. Julie Curlin following suit in 2018, becoming the first female commander of 193rd Special Operations Group.

According to the Department of Defense, when the draft ended in 1973, women represented just two percent of the enlisted forces and eight percent of the officer corps. Today, those numbers are 16 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Women in the military don’t only fill command positions. They also serve in many key supporting positions all around the Air Force and are continuing to make strides and push boundaries of old lineage expectations.

To read more stories about the key supporting positions women perform every single day visit: https://dod.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/Womens-History/more-stories.