Observations on Women's History Month

  • Published
  • By Col. Elizabeth Borelli
  • 45th Weather Squadron commander
As you are well aware by now, Women's History Month is in full swing. This year's theme, "Writing Women Back into History" is happening right now, right here at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

I hope many of you had the opportunity to participate in the video montage showcasing the talents of the women at Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral
that was shown at the Women's History
Month luncheon.
Did you know that
more than 50 percent
of the U.S. population
is female, 155.8
million compared to
151.8 million men (as
of Oct. 1, 2009), and
yet we only make up
14 percent (approx
200,000 active duty
women) of the armed
forces? It is amazing
how far we have come
and yet how far there
is left to go.
I entered the Air
Force in 1985 and
while the United
States Air Force
Academy admitted the
first females in 1976,
they didn't graduate
the first females until
It took another
decade plus until
they admitted the
Observations on Women's History Month
first females in fighter
pilot training. The
year was 1993 and I
remember it well. I was
at Squadron Officer
School and remember
some very heated
debates in our classes
and our large auditorium
lectures with the
entire class.
You see, we had
some of the first
women designated
to go to fighter pilot
training and it was not
popular among many
of our peers.
Arguments arose
over whether women
could pull G's, how the
integrity of a fighter
squadron was going
to go downhill, and
what would happen if
a woman was captured
in combat.
It was amazing
that we were sitting
in the auditorium of
the world's greatest
air force in 1993 discussing
the merits of
women flying in maledominated
when the first female
pilot was licensed
in the U.S. in 1911,
Europe had women
combat pilots during
World War I, and the
Women Airforce Service
Pilots (WASP) flew
every plane made during
World War II flying
around the world, facing
harrowing dangers;
just not considered
pilots or really "in
combat" until decades
As we enter the
second decade of the
21st century, let us not
forget the history that
is unfolding around us.
Operation Desert
Shield and Desert
Storm in the early
1990s really proved
that the all-volunteer
force was truly integrated,
with women
serving in nearly every
capacity in the Armed
The lines of war
blurred, women were
already out there
performing combat
support missions
that were closer to
combat than many
missions and many of
the remaining combat
It might have been unheard of 60 years ago, but today Col. Elizabeth
Borelli (left) and Lt. Col. Lisa Shoemaker are the commander and deputy
commander of the 45th Weather Squadron.
Photo by Christopher Calkins
restrictions for women
were lifted.
With the latest
operations in Iraq,
Afghanistan and
across the Middle
East, no one even
blinks when one see
today's guard, reserve,
civilian, contractor,
and active duty women
in every corner of the
globe contributing to
the war effort.
In order to continue
to write today's chapter
in history, please
consider going to the
Women in Military
Service for America
website at womensmemorial.
org and submit
your free registration
to help account for
today's heroes - you,
a family member, a
friend or a co-worker.
Remember, you are
writing a part of history
every day that
you serve our nation
and do your job. Your
place in the history of
women in the armed
service is happening
now and I for one
applaud your efforts.
I look forward to
hearing about the first
female Chief Master
Sergeant of the Air
Force and Chief of
Staff of the Air Force.
Who knows, it just
might be you!