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Women in the military embody true strength

Published: 11:57AM March 20th, 2014

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Our Nation was founded on a belief in equality and justice for all. Our history is replete with examples of women who have challenged injustice, and worked to ensure America’s commitment to the rights, security, and dignity of all its citizens. Many wore the cloth of their country, and shaped the military we proudly serve in today.

We recall women like aviator Jackie Cochran, whose desire to defend her nation led to the formation of the Women Air Force Service Pilots program, more than 1,000 strong, who flew 60 million miles in support of the war effort. Although their efforts were considered a “civil service”, they broke ground for the female pilots that followed in their footsteps decades later.

Closer to home, Airmen like our current vice commander, Maj. Gen. Barbara Faulkenberry, past vice commander Maj. Gen. Maggie Woodward, AMC Mobilization Assistant to the Commander Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris and the AMC Command Chief Vicki Gamble embody the same bold spirit of Jackie Cochran. Theirs is a spirit of courage that continues to open doors to senior leadership within our service.

There are many, many more Jackie Cochrans, Barbara Faulkenberrys, Maggie Woodwards, Stayce Harris’ and Vicki Gambles in our service, including many of you. What these Airmen have in common are the characteristics that make our Air Force the world’s finest air and space force: bold leadership and a commitment to excellence. This month, as we honor women’s history by recognizing the contributions of those that laid the foundations for our military and our Nation, I ask you renew your solidarity with the values of leadership and courage they embody ... those values are our nation’s true strength.