Ellsworth’s own ‘tomboys’
By 1st Lt. Glory Smith, Black Hills Bandit staff
/ Published February 27, 2006
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
It’s been said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but when it comes to accomplishing the mission in the U.S. Air Force, the “Venusians” are keeping up with the “Martians” without breaking a stride.
Not only are they cooking up hot meals in services, setting up competitions at the Bellamy Fitness Center, typing up work orders and piloting the B-1, but ladies here are also loading weapons onto the B-1, refurbishing metal siding for the plane and maintaining the fuel systems on it.
Women like Senior Airman Veronica Castillo, 28th Munitions Squadron armament maintenance crew member; Senior Airman Heather Collin, 28th Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel system journeyman; and Airman 1st Class Rebekah Gomez, 28th MXS aircraft metals technology apprentice; are just a few examples of females who work in traditionally male occupations to keep B-1s flying at Ellsworth.
“I see no difference in how men and women support the B-1 mission,” said Command Chief Master Sgt. Clyde Aune, 28th Bomb Wing. “One of the things I’m most proud of is that this profession of ours concentrates on a member’s qualification to perform duties without regard to gender, race, religion or age.”
While Airman Collin said it was a “little shocking” when she first noticed how few females are in her male-dominated career field, it’s never bothered her.
“The entire flightline is pretty much the same way,” she said. “It’s a rare occasion to run into many other females out there.”
From time to time, she said she runs into people who feel women shouldn’t be working on the flightline.
“I just do my best to prove them wrong by working just as hard as everyone else,” said Airman Collin.
At the end of the day, it’s about accomplishing the mission, and the men and women working in the back shops around base serve to complement each other in that role.
The women, while sometimes a minority, are considered equals in their shops.
The five females in the 67-member armament flight seem like they fit into the shop, said 2nd Lt. MaryAnne Macaspac, 28th MUNS armament flight commander, who added they work just as hard as the men in managing and maintaining the conventional bomb module and conventional rotary launchers for munitions on the B-1.
Airman Castillo said most of the time she doesn’t even notice that working in the armament maintenance back shop is a traditionally male job.
“We all work together to get the mission done, and that’s what’s most important,” she said.
Airman Gomez, who works as the only female in the 28th MXS aircraft metals technology back shop, said she finds the working environment quite normal.
“It’s like working with my brothers,” she said.
Growing up, she wanted a job like the one she has and says it’s “awesome.”
“She fits right in,” said 1st Lt. Jake Elsass, 28th MXS fabrication flight commander.
Regarding members of his shop being male or female, Lieutenant Elsass said it doesn’t matter as long as they can get the job done.
“If the person can do the same job and meet the same standards as their male counterparts it doesn’t matter,” he said, “and that’s how I feel about females in the military in general.”