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    Challenge Accepted: 3-265 Air Defense Artillery Battalion’s First Female Firing Battery Commander Takes Charge

    Challenge Accepted: 3-265 Air Defense Artillery Battalion's First Female Firing Battery Commander Takes Charge

    Photo By 2nd Lt. James Lanza | 1st Lt. Kelly Flunker takes command of Charlie Battery, 3-265 ADA BN, 164 ADA BDE,...... read more read more



    Story by 2nd Lt. James Lanza 

    164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade

    For those old enough to remember the attacks on this country almost two decades ago, they remember the challenges posed in the aftermath. Soldiers manned checkpoints in airports and citizens came together to figure out what they could do in support of our recovering nation. Those images were still engrained in the mind of then-U.S. Army Private Kelly Flunker as she readied herself for a new challenge by reporting to Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

    “Seeing how my entire world changed from September 10th to September 11th always stuck with me. I was 12 when it happened, and I remember it vividly to this day,” said Flunker.

    That memory of the challenges our nation faced stuck with and guided Flunker, who recently became the first woman commander of a firing battery for 3rd Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment during a ceremony at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center on 6 April when she took command of the Palmetto based unit, Charlie Battery.

    Driven by the desire to embrace new challenges and inspired by the model of professionalism her mother set forth for her as a young child, 1st Lt. Flunker has distinguished herself in a male-dominated field, without ever giving much consideration or thought to how gender factored into her career as an Army officer.

    “Growing up, the one constant in my life has been my mother,” said Flunker. “She grew up in the 50s and 60s, back when your sex was a barrier to success, but never let it stop her from following her passions or succeeding in fields where women were an overlooked minority.”

    Her mother, Linda Flunker, a published biologist whose interests took her from researching the impacts of pesticides on Soldiers to becoming a licensed pilot, instilled a passion for curiosity and tackling new challenges which Kelly had exhibited from an early age.

    “Growing up I tried all the typical sports like soccer and softball, but just never found them challenging enough, so my mother ended up pushing me to fencing and horseback riding, in an attempt to keep me engaged,” said Flunker. “This led to me working on farms and taking every opportunity to broaden my horizons.”

    Once in college, her curiosity led her to the Army, during a period when women were still excluded from combat roles. Despite this exclusion and the possibility of combat during America’s then 10-year presence in Afghanistan, when Flunker brought up the possibility of military service to her mother, she responded with overwhelming positivity.

    “She basically said, ‘this is the perfect fit for you,’ and she was right,” said Flunker.

    Flunker quickly capitalized on the traits her mother instilled in her and was commissioned as an officer in the air defense artillery, a field open to women since the 1970s. Guided by the memories of the September 11th attacks, Flunker volunteered for the opportunity to mobilize to the National Capital Region and defend the airspace surrounding Washington, D.C. during two back-to-back mobilizations.

    “During our pre-mobilization, we were constantly being tested on different air defense artillery skills, which gave me the excuse to constantly study and really master my craft,” said Flunker. “This really satisfied my need to challenge myself with something new, because there was always something to learn.”

    Eager to take on a new challenge, Flunker openly expresses excitement about the chance to shift gears from her previous role guarding urban centers in Washington D.C., to spending more time leading Soldiers in a field environment.

    “What drew me to 3rd Battalion was their insistence on perfecting field craft, spending time in the woods shooting weapons and really focusing on soldiering,” said Flunker. “The leaders are always engaged with their Soldiers, and I’ve grown to love that about their operating culture.”

    “We’ve seen her energy and enthusiasm and quickly became aware of the fact that this is the type of person we want on our team,” said Lt. Col. Robert Harris, 3-265th Battalion Commander. “We’ve spent a lot of time as a battalion out in the field and perfecting our craft, and I’m confident that this is the officer who will keep that momentum going.”



    Date Taken: 04.07.2019
    Date Posted: 04.10.2019 15:42
    Story ID: 317621
    Location: PALMETTO, FL, US 

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    Challenge Accepted: 3-265 Air Defense Artillery Battalion’s First Female Firing Battery Commander Takes Charge