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Series showcases daily examples of women's accomplishments

March kicks off month-long women's history series. (Graphic by Sylvia Saab)

March kicks off month-long women's history series. (Graphic by Sylvia Saab)

FORT MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- On Friday, March 1, we begin a month-long recognition of women's contributions to our Air Force, putting a blue perspective to the 2013 National Women's Project theme of "women inspiring innovation through imagination."

The 31-day series will showcase a profile each day of a woman or women's organization that made an impact over the more than seven decades of women's involvement with the Air Force and our predecessor, the Army Air Corps.

The series begins with Col. Jeannie Leavitt, the Air Force's first female fighter pilot and later the service's first woman to graduate from the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Today, she has the distinction as the Air Force's first female combat wing commander.

The series covers the early trailblazers of women's contributions to aviation and the Air Force with examples of female pilots who, during the early days of World War II, ferried fighter and cargo aircraft across the country for shipment overseas. One example tells of Hazel Ying Lee, a young Chinese-American female pilot who told the story of crash-landing in a rural wheat field in Kansas and being chased by the farmer because he thought she was a Japanese fighter pilot attacking U.S. soil.

The profiles run the gamut of women who have made a difference. Some, like Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, the Air Force's first four-star general, and Sheila Widnall, the first female Secretary of the Air Force, are obvious choices. Some, like Master Sgt. Jennifer Allara, an EOD specialist, and Capt. Sarah Schecter, the Air Force's only female Rabbi chaplain, may not be as well known.

The series shows that, at least for women in the Air Force, 'inspiring innovation through imagination' has been a way of life for more than seven decades.