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    Women in Aviation: Florida Guard Soldiers navigate a predominately male career field

    Women in Aviation: Florida Guard Soldiers navigate a predominately male career field

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Carmen Fleischmann | Army 1st Lt. Robyn Miller, executive officer for Bravo Company's Detachment 1,pilots ...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Carmen Fleischmann 

    107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    Bravo Company, of the 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, has been a predominately male unit for the last several years, and serving among its ranks are not the only things these two Soldiers have in common. Both women have achieved certain firsts in their endeavor to excel in the aviation career field.

    First Lt. Robyn Miller, Bravo Company, Detachment 1 Executive Officer recently discovered that she was the first African American female pilot in the state of Florida. While it was not her goal to achieve this honor, it is something she does not take lightly.

    “It’s important to be humbled by the experience and to focus on being a good pilot regardless of my gender or my ethnicity,” said Miller. “I hope that I can be a good example for anyone who might come after me, who needs inspiration or reassurance.”

    She likes to believe that the military has grown and evolved along with society to where sex and race are differences that unite rather than divide, but admits that all organizations different. Stepping into a field as any type of minority, can be challenging, so it’s important to remain focused on the mission.

    “It’s a lot easier in a male-dominated field to be a male; I know that as a pilot in training, I just work as hard as I can and people have responded positively to that. Equality is a great thing, but don’t abuse the new opportunities that are afforded to you. If you’re going to go into a combat arms field; if you’re going to go into a field that was only open to men for whatever reason before, you need to make sure that you’re qualified to do that job. I’m just as good as every male pilot that is my competition or my partner in flying an aircraft, and I make sure that I keep all my skills honed, so there’s no difference.”

    When Detachment 1 joins up with the rest of Bravo Company from the Mississippi National Guard, Miller changes roles to platoon leader of 2nd Flight Platoon. Her platoon sergeant, and acting detachment first sergeant, has set a few firsts of her own.

    Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Wilson became a 15U, CH-47 Maintainer/Repairer for the 1-111th as a sergeant, when they transitioned from Apaches to Chinooks. She submitted a packet to re-classify into the 15U occupational specialty and in 2005 while deployed to Iraq, was notified that she was selected for Bravo Company, making her the first female to serve in that company in the unit’s history.

    “It’s the first senior NCO role that a female has had in this company, but even as an E-5, I was the only female,” said Wilson.

    Though she was familiar with many of the Soldiers in Bravo Company from her role as a refueler at the time, she used her time before the reclassification school to observe them and learn how she would fit in among the male Soldiers.

    “Even as an E-5 … guys never treated me differently. Back then I set the tone for how they could act around me, and certain things we don’t do. We like to have fun, but there’s a line.”

    As she transitioned to the detachment first sergeant role, the working relationship between her and the troops had already been established, although she credits being approachable as the key ingredient to being a positive leader.

    “I know everyone in this battalion, and I make it my deal to talk to people and to know them,” she said. “They call me ‘momma bear,’ because I take care of all of them. I know what’s going on in their lives.”

    Both 1st Lt. Miller and Sgt. 1st Class Wilson hope to see more females enter the aviation field. Since recently combat specific specialties have become available to them, Wilson encourages women who apply for those positions to not lose their individuality.

    “For females coming in to basically a male dominated world, first of all, the entire Army is a male dominated role, but females that I’ve seen, young Soldiers, I’ve tried to tell them that, ‘If you’re a female, be proud. You’re absolutely unique compared to everyone else in the battalion.’”

    She went on to say that the male counterparts may not treat women like one of the guys, but will treat them like family, and that it’s important not to feel like you have to constantly compete with them to gain their respect.

    “You don’t have to prove to anybody that you’re 100% better than them, because if you work hard enough, they’re going to see it without you telling them … Actions always speak louder than words.”




    Date Taken: 04.22.2016
    Date Posted: 04.22.2016 10:09
    Story ID: 196210
    Location: HATTIESBURG, MS, US 
    Hometown: HATTIESBURG, MS, US
    Hometown: JACKSONVILLE, FL, US
    Hometown: TALLAHASSEE, FL, US

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