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    Women Making History, Fleming’s Story

    Women Making History

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Harwood | Master Sgt. Cortney Fleming, 179th Airlift Wing Maintenance Group Resource Advisor,...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Harwood 

    179th Airlift Wing

    MANSFIELD, Ohio – March is observed nationally as Women’s History Month. One way to highlight the history of women in the Air National Guard is to observe them making history today in the 179th Airlift Wing, Mansfield, Ohio.

    Women at the 179th AW are outnumbered by male Airmen, currently the unit is under 25% female, and that statistic is not unusual for any military installation. The goal is to raise that number to 30% by 2026. As the unit approaches its 70th anniversary it strives to reach further milestones of empowering female Airmen.

    Recently, the unit has made history appointing Col. Allison C. Miller as the first female wing commander in the Ohio Air National Guard. Last year, Col. Patricia L. Barr became the Mission Support Group Commander and a female from the unit Chief Master Sgt. Heidi A. Bunker, was selected to be the Command Chief for the 178th Wing. The 179th AW currently has two female Chief Master Sergeants, Chief Dana M. Togliatti and Chief April R. Gunnoe.

    Leadership roles are an important step to acknowledging that although they are still outnumbered, they are valued for the diversity they bring to the unit and equal in their ability to get the mission accomplished.

    For some of the youngest Airmen, these changes are happening while they are still trying to figure out their roles and career ambitions. Some of the women have been around long enough to personally feel the climate change and can remember a time when they personally felt limited by traditional gender roles.

    Master. Sgt. Fleming first joined the active duty U.S. Air Force 10 years ago as a munitions specialist and first served at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, and then Shaw AFB, South Carolina. She left active duty five years ago to join the Air National Guard and took a full time position at the 179th Airlift Wing in the Maintenance Group as a budget analyst. In her position, she acts as a resource advisor and wing refueling document control officer in a branch of financial management that focuses on the purchasing needs of maintenance operations.

    Fleming says she was the first in her family to join the military and it was all very foreign to them, at first they were nervous for her but over her career they have been supportive and watching her thrive they have become very comfortable with it.

    “It’s given me a lot of opportunity,” said Fleming “I’ve travelled and met so many influential people and overall it’s given me a well-rounded life.”

    Serving on active duty and then transitioning to the Air National Guard, Fleming says she feels it’s been a fairly seamless transition and that she has felt that she has been given an opportunity to succeed through it all.
    “I’m very proud to serve in the Air National Guard as a woman. I’m very proud of the women I’ve served with, I’ve made wonderful friends.” said Fleming, “I don’t see it as any different than working for any other company or agency except that this organization gives me the chance to wear this uniform every day and do something for my country.”

    As part of C-130H Hercules unit, each member plays a role in ensuring the aircraft and the airmen are ready to respond at a moment’s notice to the needs of the state and federal missions it supports.

    Fleming expressed that she takes pride in being a part of this mission saying, “Being a part of the recent hurricane relief efforts, even if it’s something as simple as reconciling fuel receipts or making sure that there is money in place to handle the ground service charges when we go to these forward operating locations, I know that it’s a critical part of the entire mission and that’s very fulfilling for me to do my part.”

    After witnessing the first female taking command of an Ohio Air National Guard unit Fleming said, “It makes me feel like an innovator just being a part of it. It’s awesome. Being at her assumption of command ceremony, seeing a woman stand up there and take command of the 179th Airlift Wing and discussing all of the highlights of her career leading up to it, that moment was such a powerful one…goosebumps.”

    Fleming said she is very inspired by her female leadership as a positive role model and agrees that it’s important to have strong positive role models.

    Military members make up less than 1% of the U.S. population. Not everyone has a wide breadth of personal experience with who those people are or what they are like, leading to misconceptions or stereotypes.

    Personally knowing a lot of women in the military, Fleming shared her perspective on common misconceptions of women in the military saying, “I think a lot of people have an idea in their head of how a female military member looks, who they should be, what she’s like or what she likes do in her free time…I don’t think there is a certain stigma you could put on a woman in the military, or any type of person.”

    The old adage “You are who you hang with” could be applied to military members, there is a general truth that we are influenced by those we spend our time around. That doesn’t mean that they are all alike but they share a common desire to succeed in a career where they are outnumbered by males yet thriving as equal Airmen.

    Fleming said, “Being surrounded by strong and positive people has given me confidence to be a leader, pursue college, raise children…be a strong Airman and a confident woman.”



    Date Taken: 03.08.2018
    Date Posted: 03.13.2018 13:50
    Story ID: 268695
    Location: MANSFIELD, OH, US 

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