Wolf Pack celebrates Women’s History Month: officer edition

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Each March we celebrate Women’s History Month. This is the fourth story in a series of women serving here at the Wolf Pack.

Looking back, women have gone from second-class citizens to 4-star general officers.

Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot; 1st Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest, the first female U.S. Army Ranger School graduates; and retired Gen. Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody, who in 2008 became the first woman to achieve four-star general, are all examples of female officers who took the lead.

At the Wolf Pack, female officers lead at all levels, to include flights, squadrons and groups. According to Col. Jennifer “Falcon” Phelps, 8th Mission Support Group commander, serving at the group level is a humbling experience.

“I have the opportunity to lead some of the best leaders the Air Force has to offer,” Phelps said. “I also get to work alongside an outstanding team that truly seeks to take care of Airmen while getting the job done. I really couldn’t ask for more.

“Where I am and who I’ve become is a testament to those people who invested in me, guided me, pushed me and walked with me,” she said.

According to Phelps, being an officer presents both formal and informal educational opportunities. Learning is a part of growing as a leader, no matter your rank.  

“I tell all my young officers growing up in the intelligence career field, to learn everything you can about your job and mission set,” said Maj. Taylor Barela, 8th Operations Support Squadron chief of wing intelligence. “Recognize that it is okay to fail at this level, as long as you learn and grow from those failures.

“It is crucial for us, as young intelligence professionals, to become experts in our mission set,” she said. “Not only to execute the mission, but to lead those under our charge. By learning from our successes and failures, we are shaping ourselves for future leadership opportunities in order to pass along our experiences and build the intelligence generations that come after us.”

For Phelps, military service and leadership in general can be described as a journey.

“Journey is a great term,” Phelps said. “I did not envision serving over 20 years when I graduated in 1998. I knew that I wanted to serve, to travel and to learn. I’ve been blessed to do those things far more than I thought possible.

”I’ve served alongside amazing people from all walks of life, many of whom have been my best teachers.”

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, remember to reflect on the progress that’s been made and the battles women continue to fight in the name of equality. Learn from those who have gone before.

“I truly learn new things every day, regardless of the shape my classroom takes,” Phelps said. “In my mind, that’s quite a journey and I am grateful for the opportunities along the way.”