FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Airmen from different units at Fairchild came together to conduct an all-female refueling mission March 13 in honor of women's history month and to remember women's heritage.
Female pilots, boom operators and maintainers all played a part in commemorating the 2014 Women's History Month theme of celebrating women of character, courage and commitment, as well as 67 years of females serving in the Air Force.
"I believe it is important to celebrate women's history month to emphasize positive role models and show that there are many opportunities out there for girls and young women," said Maj. Gena Fedoruk, the 92nd Operations Support Squadron chief of current operations. "Today's flight pays tribute to the women that paved the way for us to fly as equals in the military."
Fedoruk was one of two pilots from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing on the flight, along with two female boom operators and a pilot from the 116th Air Refueling Squadron, making the flight a total force integration mission. The three-person maintenance team who prepared the KC-135 Stratotanker was also made up entirely of female Airmen as well as the Airmen who launched the aircraft from the tower.
Airman 1st Class Jessica Lambright, a 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, said it's empowering to be able to do something like this.
"There are so few women aircrew members, it's important for us to stick together and support each other," said Maj. Stephanie Blech, the 92nd Operations Group chief of standardization and evaluation and a pilot aboard the flight. "It's an opportunity to promote women in aviation."
Although it is not uncommon to have an all-female mission, it was fitting for the crew to be able to commemorate a significant aspect of the Air Force heritage and the growth of the female role in today's military. They agreed it was a great time and was something they needed to do more often.
"Flying together is something we don't normally get to do," said Senior Airman Erin Ong, a 92nd ARS boom operator. "It was great to be able to complete this mission honoring Women's History Month."