Those before me

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica H. Smith
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
As Women’s History Month comes to an end, I can’t help but wonder where I would be if it wasn’t for the women before me. In specific, the women who served before me and paved the way for generations to come.

If it wasn’t for Esther Blake – the first woman to enlist in the United States Air Force in 1948 – would I have so confidently walked into my local recruiting office? Would I have even considered serving my country as a realistic dream?

What about Jacqueline Cochran? Would aircraft still be flown predominantly by men? As the first woman to break the sound barrier in 1953, it would only make sense that she has inspired the roughly 700 women who are taking the fight to the skies alongside their male counterparts.

After joining in 1994, Jeannie M. Leavitt, followed in the footsteps of Cochran and became the first female fighter pilot and later the first female fighter wing commander; continuing on the inspiration for women in the Air Force.

How about Marcelite Jordan Harris? She proved diversity is a good thing – not a hindrance in our Air Force – by becoming the first African American female to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in 1990.

While some of these names may or may not be familiar, the reality is most of these women made history during a time when change wasn’t widely accepted like it is today.

Their persistence and bravery to be different and fight for what they wanted has given the women of today a foot in the door and opportunities that may have never been available otherwise.

So as March comes to an end, I ask you, who are the women who’ve inspired you?