Defending peace, non-violence

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs

This year’s Women’s History Month theme was “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Non-violence.”  A luncheon was held here to honor the event March 28.  

“Patriotism knows no gender,” Col. Scott Dickson, 96th Test Wing vice-commander, said in opening remarks.  “Courage does not discriminate, it is not gender or job-specific.  Courage is about having the ability to face fear, danger and adversity.  As Airmen, we all have these characteristics.” 

The guest speakers were Col. Shannon Sherwin, 96th Test Wing Staff Judge Advocate and Chief Master Sgt. Katie McCool, 53rd Wing command chief.

Sherwin cited several notable military women who have defended peace and non-violence, including: retired Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson, the first African-American female two-star general; retired Col. Martha McSally, the first American woman to fly in combat; and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, the first female veteran elected to a full term in Congress.     

“Those women and many more, broke through and continue to change barriers that exist, or are perceived to exist,” she said.  “They showed women can accomplish tasks given to us, or those tasks we take on ourselves.  They forged paths to make ours a better military; for me, my male counterparts, and my peers, subordinates and superiors.” 

The colonel encouraged the women in the audience to seek out role models to emulate.

“I ask you to find a woman role model who is the embodiment of who you want to be like, act like and learn from,” she said.

McCool said when she joined the military, she didn’t want to be thought of as a woman.  

“I wanted to be thought of as just an Airman,” she said.  “I wanted to be thought of as someone who was willing to stand and fight our nation’s battles, to preserve the peace for others.”

McCool said seeing the many positive changes military women have made in the military after working her way to the top of the enlisted ranks, her mindset of just an Airman changed.

“I realize I’m not just an Airman, I’m a woman,” she said.  “I don’t want to be thought of as lesser or more.  I want to be thought of as someone whose perspective adds to the entire Air Force mission.”

McCool ended her speech by asking the audience to remember the women who came before them and made a difference.