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    Female Fighters Fly High

    Ike Supports Naval Operations in 5th Fleet Area of Operations

    Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Brennen Easter | 200323-N-QY794-1221 ARABIAN SEA (March 23, 2020) Airman Victoria Dolz signals to an...... read more read more

    Although women were first winged as naval aviators as early as 1974, they were unable to fly in combat roles until after the combat exclusion laws were repealed in 1990.

    There were many trailblazers who began to advocate for women in combatant roles, including some female aviators winged some 15 years prior to the repeal. Female combat aviators and their supporting roles embarked on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in today’s Navy are ready and trained to take the fight anywhere in world.

    Ens. Kenya McCarty assigned to the “Fighting Swordsmen” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, said as a mechanic she has often been the only woman in a circle of men. From carrying a drop tank to pumping up an engine stand, she has years of experience in literal and figurative heavy-lifting.

    “I’m so thankful for the women who had the courage to say ‘we do more than the prescribed roles we had as military women let us show you’,” said McCarty. “We have grown miraculously. We can do anything from taking care of babies, cooking, caring for the wounded. Now we take the fight to the enemy. I value all that I can do as a woman including my role as a mother. It makes me feel especially proud my daughter can say her mom builds jet engines.”

    Lt. Cmdr. Paige Blok, an F/A-18F Super Hornet pilot assigned to VFA 32, led the flyover tribute to honor the life and service of Capt. Rosemary Mariner, the first female commanding officer of a tactical jet squadron, in 2019. A total of five F/A-18F Super Hornets with an all-female crew formed the missing (wo)man formation as a tribute.

    “She was an incredible leader who played a direct role in ensuring we could all do the jobs we aspired to do as little girls,” said Blok referring to Capt. Mariner and her fellow female aircrew.

    Like Blok, Lt. Natasha Reyes, assigned to the "Swamp Foxes" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74, wanted to be a pilot when she was a girl and didn’t let anyone tell her she didn’t have what it took.
    “Whenever I was growing I would aspire to certain things and ask myself, ‘why aren’t there more women?’” said Reyes. “There is a sense of awesomeness when a trailblazer sets a course for you. Women becoming astronauts, striving in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] programs and piloting aircraft is very important. Our presence shows women can be something in a male-dominated field.”

    Blok said that early on, male allies played a critical role in enabling women to serve in role in the military. She noted that because of those “firsts” and their advocates, her experience has been more similar than different from that of her male peers. Performance and work ethic are the metrics that have mattered in her career, not gender. This rings true for Blok and many other female servicemembers in combatant roles.

    “There are times in a male-dominated field where you can feel you don’t belong,” said Reyes. “Keep working hard. If you show the grit, deal with the grime and keep pushing you can achieve your dreams. I love seeing female empowerment. It gives us an opportunity to support each other, and serves as a reminder that we are not alone. The sky is not the limit. We have astronauts, right? You can go above and beyond as long as you put your mind to it.”



    Date Taken: 04.30.2020
    Date Posted: 04.30.2020 10:00
    Story ID: 368862
    Location: ARABIAN SEA

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