Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Seeing stars ...

Ok, I have to admit it … sometimes my job is SO cool. While I don’t love it all the time (I’ll be the first to admit I have my days!) I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in the Air Force. No other job lets you get outside the office and meet so many people from all different career fields and walks of life. I’ve gotten to meet music stars, First Lady Laura Bush, military leadership from every branch, and most importantly, I’ve gotten to see the bigger picture Air Force – learning how other career fields train, work and get the mission done. For someone who loves to talk, it’s the perfect job.

Yesterday was one of those days where nothing went as planned; bad weather delayed the arrival of two general’s, one who was going to take a tour of the Kabul Military Training Center, where the Afghan National Army and Army Air Corp train. I was scheduled to document the visit but it wasn’t until the advanced security team, including me, was already there, that we learned the visit had been cancelled. Making the best of it, I snapped away, pictures of trainees, the British soldiers I was riding with having a snowball fight, having tea with the Afghan’s and more Afghans. They absolutely LOVE to have their photo taken.

The second visitor of the day, Gen. Ann Dunwoody, was someone whom I really wanted to meet, so I was disappointed to know she had been delayed due to all the snow, rain and sleet we’d gotten the last two days. Then late in the day, our chief came to my desk and said she would be here tonight so the photo shoot was still on. For those who don’t know, General Dunwoody was the first women to reach four-star status, out of ANY branch of the military, and she is currently, the only female to hold that rank. It wasn’t until 1970 that the U.S. military had its first female one star – Brig. Gen. Anna Mae Hays, chief of the Army Nurse Corps. Now there are 57 active-duty female general officers in the U.S. armed forces, five of whom are lieutenant generals or vice admirals, the Navy's three-star rank. When the nomination announcement was made, General Dunwoody said, “While I may be the first, I know I won’t be the last.” I can’t imagine all that she has seen and done in her 33 years of service … and all that she has seen change. And General Dunwoody just so happened to have graduated from the State University of New York at Cortland … just a hop, skip and a jump from where I graduated at the State University of New York at Albany. Needless to say, I was excited to meet her.

As I snapped pictures of General Dunwoody and Lt. Gen. Caldwell, I casually let it slip that I was a SUNY graduate too … actually I was so eager to talk to her, I think I blurted it out as thrust my hand in her face. I think they could both tell I was excited, so General Caldwell offered to take my picture with her. As I stood next to her in front of the United States flag, I couldn’t help but think how crazy it was … there was a three-star general, the commander of NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, taking MY picture with the military’s only female four-star general. Wow. I really love this job.

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