Hancock Air National Guard Base --
The first woman to make history by joining the National Guard in 1956, was a New Yorker; Capt. Norma Parsons-Erb.
Parsons-Erb had served as a World War II flight nurse and in the Korean war in a hospital and joined the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Tactical Hospital as a nurse.
Parsons-Erb joined the Guard after President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation allowing women to serve in National Guard medical units as nurses.
Since March is Women’s History Month, we’re looking at how women in the 174th Attack Wing today keep on making history.
Airman Halley Narvaez is a personalist with the 174th Force Support Squadron. She was inspired by her stepfather to join the military and always looked up to him. She wanted to serve her country and to do something bigger than herself.
“I feel I have different life experiences I could bring to the table, Narvaez said. “One thing I would tell future women is, other women in the military are not your enemy. We are the minority and have to stick together. One team one fight.”
Master Sgt. Linda Walker, the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of radio maintenance for the 174th Communications Squadron has been in the career field for over 35 years.
Walker started out on active duty with her first duty assignment in Philippines. She transitioned over the guard where she had been stationed in California, Delaware and New York. In 2010 she started a full-time position at the 174th Attack Wing.
“The old norms that women aren’t authority figures, they don’t have the competency to do technical things or fly aircraft has changed over the years, but you’re a product of your environment.” Walker said.
“You won’t know anything other than that unless you meet other women in the military. This will help give you a broader view of where you are going and what your capabilities are,” she added.
After taking a glider ride in Virginia as a girl, Col. Catherine Hutson fell in love with anything in aviation. What she hadn’t realized at that time was it would lead her to becoming the 174th Maintenance Group commander and also being the 2nd female to lead a group at the 174th Attack Wing.
“I think you have to see to believe it and to be it. There is a lot of evidence that shows if you don’t see women in certain leadership roles, the younger people coming in may not see it as an opportunity,” Hutson said.
“Being in a male dominated career field, I would encourage women out there not to discount maintenance. It’s an exciting career field, “Hutson added.
Col. Roxellen Auletto, the 174th Medical Group Commander and a flight nurse, said she had a calling to join the military after 9/11.
Although, she knew she may have hurdles trying to join at age 50, she did not give up. She only wanted to be in the military and serve never thinking she would become a commander. In 2002, she was given an age waiver and recently hit her 20 years and isn’t ready to retire.
“As a female leader I am hoping that I am setting an example and providing other women the thought that it’s possible, “Auletto said. “I want to be part of mentoring these women.”
Chief Master Sgt. Ashley Pace, the 174th’s Contracting Officer started her journey in college and realized she wanted to do something more. In 2002, she joined Active Duty and transitioned to the Air National Guard in 2016. She is also the Air National Guard Contracting Regional Chief Enlisted Manager for the southeast region.
“It definitely feels strange to have people come to you for answers and to have so much responsibility. But it’s also fun and exciting,” Pace said. “You are given the opportunity to take your experiences and share them with others to help make decisions.”