By Senior Airman Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In 1987, two great things happened: I was born and Women’s History Month was created.
This observance, though just as young as I am, is a constant reminder to me and all Americans of how much women have accomplished and contributed to this country.
Being a black female in the military and the first and only female in my family in the Air Force, I appreciate those pioneers who made it possible for me to serve as an Airman.
I appreciate women like Esther Blake, the first woman in the Air Force. She enlisted on the first minute of the first hour of the first day that regular Air Force duty was authorized for women: July 8, 1948. She joined the Air Force while both her sons were serving the Army Air Forces and separated due to disability in 1954.
I pay tribute to retired Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris, the first African American female general in the Air Force. She served from 1965 – 1997 and retired as the highest ranking female officer in the Air Force and the nation’s highest ranking African-American woman in the Department of Defense. She was also the first female aircraft maintenance officer, one of the first two female air officers commanding at the United States Air Force Academy, and the Air Force’s first female vice commander for maintenance. She also served as a White House social aide during the Carter administration. Her service medals and decorations include the Bronze Star, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the Vietnam Service Medal.
I look up to women like Chief Master Sgt. Margarita Overton, the first female command chief for the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. She joined the Air Force in 1987, the same year I was born and Women’s History Month began. I’ve had the privilege to interact with, learn from and be mentored by Chief Overton on a personal level. I respect her as a leader. March 21, she will be retiring, leaving an enormous trail of success behind her. I plan to gather as much wisdom and insight from that trail as I can, and with my personal experiences, create a trail of my own.
Women’s History Month inspires me, not just in March, but every day to embrace where others before me came from, to be grateful for the future they provided me, to be proud enough to take advantage of every opportunity offered to me, and to be wise enough to leave a legacy of my own.
To all women who make a difference, I salute you.