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    Celebrating Women Veterans Day with a Long Running Legacy



    Courtesy Story

    USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)       

    Loretta Walsh made history in 1917 as the first woman to enlist in the U.S. Navy. Since then, thousands of brave women have carried on her legacy at all levels of the Navy.

    The Navy has many examples of strongwomen among its ranks, with a great number of them serving on USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). Women Veterans Day is a way to celebrate and recognize these important Sailors.

    Master Chief Logistics Specialist Sunshine Ridgeway, from Front Royal, Virginia, is the Leading Chief Petty Officer of Ford’s supply S-1 division.

    Ridgeway has served a long career in the Navy, approaching her 27th year in August. Women like Ridgeway are no strangers to the Navy’s most integral procedures. She fondly recalls taking part in Ford’s Full Ship Shock Trials.

    “I was glad to be a part of Full Ship Shock Trials,” Ridgeway said. “It only happens around once every thirty years, and with this ship being a new class of aircraft carriers, it was really something special that I got to be a part of. There are not a lot of people that can say that.” Shock Trials test the ship’s structural integrity by creating three explosions close to the ship.

    Seaman Audrey Schwab, from Winchester, Virginia, exemplifies the power of women entering the Naval service. She checked into Ford’s S-6 division in October. In just nine short months in the Navy, Schwab has already had some unforgettable moments.

    “I got to drive the ship,” Schwab recounted. “It was really cool because when I turned the wheel of the ship, I saw the ship turn in the water. I thought to myself, ‘That was me. This is one of the biggest ships in the Navy, and I’m the one driving!’”

    Regardless of their rank or career length, both of these women play vital roles in the Navy’s mission. “The most important thing I’ve done in the Navy is give back,” said Ridgeway with a smile. “Whether it’s getting Sailors advanced, writing awards or writing evaluations, the biggest thing for me is being able to impact Sailors and their careers.” Schwab also gives back in her own way, by supporting the Sailors around her.

    “A lot of people have told me I’m easy to talk to,” Schwab said. “I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls from people who needed someone to talk to, and I like being that person. I think it’s important to be there for each other.”

    Both Ridgeway and Schwab had advice and encouragement to offer to women who are joining the Navy today.

    “Follow your dreams and never give up,” Ridgeway began. “When I first joined,
    I was only going to do one tour, but then I stayed for shore duty. From there, it just kept getting easier and easier. Times are changing. Women are in leadership roles. We have a vice president who is a woman. The possibilities are endless for you. Set your goals and stay focused.”

    Schwab followed up with her own story.

    “When I said I was joining the Navy, some people in my family asked me ‘Are you sure? That’s not really a place a woman should be.’ But I took that as motivation to prove them wrong. I wanted to prove to them that this is where I belong. This is where women belong.”

    Ever since Loretta Walsh’s enlistment, other important women like Ridgeway and
    Schwab have stepped up to serve their nation. The Navy will continue to welcome women into its ranks and celebrate them with Women Veterans Day.



    Date Taken: 06.12.2022
    Date Posted: 07.10.2022 06:33
    Story ID: 424676
    Location: US
    Hometown: FRONT ROYAL, VA, US
    Hometown: WINCHESTER, VA, US

    Web Views: 158
    Downloads: 0