Wednesday, October 17, 2018

“I am one of those Trailblazers.”

July 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Bras & Boots

I am an American Woman Veteran. I served in the United States Air Force from 1974 to 1977. They call me a Vietnam Era Vet. I am one of those Trailblazers. When I served the perception was that women joined the military for one of two reasons: they were easy looking for men, or they were gay. I was neither–I wanted to serve my country. I never went to Vietnam but stayed in the States serving with a fighter interceptor squadron protecting our shores at home.

From the moment I first saw a C-5, the biggest monster plane in the USAF, lift off the ground with smooth grace, I was hooked. That was at age 15. I wanted to serve, so at age 18, being a woman and knowing that the war in Vietnam was still being waged, I enlisted. I served my country well and have always listed that as one of my proudest acheivements.

During my service I saw women start to stand up and demand more out of their military careers. They became helicopter pilots, then fighter pilots, and broke through into most all of the occupational specialties. My generation of women veterans helped lay the groundwork for all the possibilities that today’s women service personnel can become.

Today my youngest son serves as a United States Marine. I work with a non-profit organization called the Marine Corps Family Support Community. We support the families of Marines, veterans and friends. My second proudest acheivement? Being able to share my stories, lend a helping hand to struggling families, send care packages,welcome the Marines home from deployment at the airport, refer people to resources and stand by them in times of celebration, sorrow or need.

And that’s not even my regular job.

-Carol Michel


2 Responses to ““I am one of those Trailblazers.””
  1. Rosa McNeely says:

    I also enlisted and served served from 1973-1977 after graduating from high School. I remember those days well when you joined the service because you were either trying to get a man or trying to get a woman, whatever your sexual orientation was. It was a different time for women, we were just coming into our own, exploring all the possibilities. “The times they were a changing” We didn’t want to stay at home or go into traditional careers.

    I was lured into the Army by a very motivated, professional female recruiter that came to speak at our school about the opportunities the Army offered. Thank God my school wasn’t so liberal (after all this was California during the early seventies) that they blocked the military recruiters from speaking at our career fairs. Afterall this was during the Vietnam war, whcih so many people opposed.

    The Army recruiter was wearing her Army green uniform and looked very sharp. I had dreamed of being an airline stewardess (it was OK to call them that in those days) but this was better. She talked about seeing the world and doing things our mothers only dreamed of. Coming from a very “macho” Mexican background where women had large families and worked to keep the men happy and the children fed, it was unheard of. She was like a life support being thrown out at me. Her name was SSG Didi Rousier. She was my hero and I wanted to be just like her.

    I served from 1973 to 1977 and then got out to pursue a college education. Immediately after graduating from College, I returned to what I loved the most, military service. I was blessed to have served another 26 years and actually see a little of the world that SSG Rousier so passionately talked about. I will always be grateful for the many opportunities that the Army gave me. I know my life would have taken a different turn had I lived in Mexico where I was born. I love this country, and continue to serve any way I can. I too volunteer with a non profit organization called the USO. I enjoy serving our soldiers and knowing that I am still doing my part in service of this great country and our great military.

  2. I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1974 strictly to get the GI Bill and didn’t hear those rumors about gay or looking to land a man until after I got in. When I got to my first regular duty station at Headquarters Marine Corps, the first thing the commanding officer of my office told me was, “No bird dogging my men.” I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. As it ended up, I was the only one of five women transferred into the office at the time who didn’t “bird dog” the men even though several were after me. And there was resentment for that among the men and women.

    I also remember an especially feminine and pretty Woman Marine that was rumored on base, only among the men, to be a prostitute. The WM officers suggest she wear jeans and t-shirts and dress down her feminity. She was not overt, just very pretty and feminine. She was so incensed that she went to the base physician and got a handwritten statement that she was still a virgin. She framed it and put it in her room.

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