The battle of the sexes may very well be a thing of the past, as gender equality is certainly evident in the United States military, now more than ever. Just recently, we shared how an all-female Seabee team reached a significant milestone and secured a place in history.
Now, another all-female team made history. On January 25, the five “Tigertails” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Two Five (VAQ-125) participated in the first all-female E-2C Hawkeye combat mission.
The team, composed of Carrier Aircraft Plane Commander Lt. Cmdr. Tara Refo; Mission Commander Lt. Cmdr. Brandy Jackson; Second Pilot Lt. Ashley Ruic; Air Control Officer Lt. Nydia Driver; and Radar Operator Lt. j. g. Ashley Ellison, flew an E-2C Hawkeye, the “all-weather, carrier-based tactical battle management airborne early warning and command and control aircraft” of the U.S. Navy.
Supporting the “Tigertails,” ensuring safe launch and recovery, were female maintainers, including: Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class LaTasha Lawrence; Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Farzana Lively; Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class Ana Wilson; Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Denise Birchfield; and Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Racheal Watson.
Lt. Ruic shared: “I have only had the opportunity to fly with one other female pilot… It is nice to be a part of history, not just because we are females, but because we are also close friends. It was a unique experience.”
Ellison, on the other hand, shared: “We got the mission accomplished and had fun at the same time. It was a flight I will never forget.”