Fearless Faces: Confidence, Unexpected...

Carol, Author: “I Focus on Holding my Head High and Walking Tall”

By May 15, 2018 No Comments

women in the militaryI stepped off the plane and walked with the other recruits toward the sergeant waiting for us. He watched us approach, lit up a cigarette, and immediately began yelling: “FORM A LINE! MOVE IT! LET’S GO!”.

I remember standing there at that moment and thinking to myself: “Oh my god Carol, you’ve done a lot of stupid things but you’ve really done it this time”.

In the 1970’s, women were a rarity in the Air Force. There were so few of us, that every time I would go somewhere on base, I was stared at. I would go to the chow hall to eat, and it felt like everyone in there was watching each and every bite I took.

On top of that, my first few months had been far from smooth sailing. I felt like I was constantly messing up; I couldn’t even make my bed right. Two inspections in a row, my training officer had ripped my bed apart, yelling at me to start over. I developed a real fear that I couldn’t hack it, that I would wash out and be sent home.

And I knew there were people back home who thought I would fail- they had told me as much. Even my own mom, who loved me and ultimately supported me, had her doubts, saying: “You’re just so headstrong, Carol. I don’t know how long you’re going to last being told what to do”.

I couldn’t let them be right. Once I figured out how to make my bed correctly, I started sleeping on the floor to avoid messing it up. When I felt the eyes of men watching me as I ate, I focused on holding my head high and walking tall. I was going to fake it until I made it.

In the end, I eventually found my way, serving in the Air Force for more than 20 years. But I always tell people that I survived the first four because my mother said I couldn’t do it. Come hook or by crook, I was gonna do it- And I did!

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