Pfc. Alyxandra McChesney
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq – “I was the first female in my Family to join the military,” said Capt. Kim Walter, operations officer serving with 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division. “I didn’t join for the money, and I didn’t join for school. I joined to serve for my country.”
Walter credits her military experience in helping to ensure the soldiers of 101st BSB, 1st AATF, succeed in accomplishing their mission in support of Operation New Dawn.
The journey began for Walters, who calls Crowley, La. home, when she enlisted into the U.S. Army as a private in 1990. One year later, at the age of 18, Walter deployed for the Persian Gulf War as a combat medic and the only female in her company assigned to 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Division.
Recounting the memories of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, a distant look settled on Walter’s face, describing some of the experiences that made her the Soldier and officer she is today.
“It was my first time away from home—I had no idea what to expect,” said Walter. “I was exposed to things I had never seen before.”
“When we moved from Kuwait to Iraq in tanks the moment we engaged the enemy we had to jump out of the vehicle, dig fox holes and get into our fighting positions, until the enemy fire was suppressed,” described Walter.
As night fell, the troops lined up vehicles in columns and dug holes deep enough to provide cover from enemy fire, she explained.
Walter said even though she was the only female, her leaders and peers didn’t treat her differently.
“Being the only female I was never asked to do less than the male soldiers fighting next to me,” she said. “I was expected to do the same as everyone else, and that’s what I did.”
In 2004, Walter deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a platoon leader and flight medic with 50th Medical Company, 101st Airborne Division, also known as the Air Ambulance unit, based out of Fort Campbell, Ky.
“I’ll never forget the experiences I had in OIF. I still remember every patient I worked on, every detail of their injuries and every face. Those are some of the things I will never forget,” said Walter.
While deployed as a flight medic, her job was to respond to medical evacuations by helicopter, where in most cases the wounded soldiers were seriously injured or killed in action.
“I joined as a combat medic to help people,” she said. “Until then, I didn’t realize the capacity in what I could do to save people’s lives.”
Walter was recognized for her achievements in a National Geographic Book “Count On Us: American Women in the Military” by Amy Nathan, published in 2004.
“Count On Us” paid tribute to the American women in the military, the women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces from the Revolutionary War to Operation Iraqi Freedom and to the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to the nation.
“Females in the army are significant; we are important. Our military needs us, and our country needs us,” said Walter, referring to the book and to her own service.
“I was fortunate enough to have leaders that didn’t single me out as a female,” she said. “They gave me the same opportunities as every other Soldier under them. They pushed me to strive and work hard to be the best Soldier I could be.”
During her 17 years of enlisted service in the Army, Walter took the opportunities the Army provided. She attended Baker College in Michigan and earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Services and Administration.
In 2007 Walter decided to make the change from enlisted to officer.
“I have seen the Army change … in so many different ways since I joined,” she said. “I have seen it go from ‘Be all that you can be’ to ‘Army of One,’ and now ‘Army Strong’,” said Walter.
“I do miss being [a non-commissioned officer] and working directly with my soldiers. An officer’s job does more of the preparation and planning of missions and the NCO works directly with the Soldiers to execute, and get the missions done.”
Walter uses her experience and knowledge to help her staff and soldiers grow in their military careers and to overcome any obstacles they may face while deployed.
“Because of her experience as an NCO, we can turn to her for any questions, advice or concerns we may have,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Grape, battle operations NCO of 101st BSB, 1st AATF, 1st Inf. Div., U.S. Division-North. “She teaches me new things about the Army every day, and I use her as a learning tool to help me grow as an NCO.”
Walter said she is approaching 21 years of active military service and plans to continue active service until 2017.
“I am honored and proud to say that I serve and fight with the most diverse organization in the world, the U.S. military,” said Walters.