On March 13, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., was part of a Women’s Heritage Flight that consisted of an allfemale C-17 Globemaster 111 crew, a first of its kind.
During my career as a printing supervisor, we also had many firsts for military women. I trained the first female printer who worked for me 10 years, and went on to retire from the Air Force after 30 years of service.
One of my female workers was the first enlisted female to be assigned to Viet Nam.
In the early ‘60s I was called to my commander’s office. He introduced me to a female African-American 2nd lieutenant who had just reported in from 90 days of training at Lackland Air Base, Texas. (These officers were called ’90-day wonders’ during wartime.)
My commander wanted me to show her around the base, show her how we did things in our printing department, and take her to our mess hall and feed her. She was to be with me for the next 30 days.
He called me aside and told me he wanted me to teach her the correct way to salute. He said he had never seen such a poor salute from one of his officers.
In 1968 at Lindsey Air Station, Germany, this young lady, who was now a captain, walked into my office and gave me a very sharp salute. She said, “Sgt. Vanover, you trained me well.”
This young lady went on to be the first female African-American general in the Air Force. So, I guess I did train her well, and I’m very proud of her.