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Female Soldiers Lead The Way

    "America is safer because the men and women of Bagram are on duty." - First Lady Laura Bush, on her visit to Bagram.

Laura Bush visited Afghanistan in March to help promote International Women's Month.  I'm late in honoring of International Women's Month, so I would like to call attention to these Soldiers:

And here's a story about a female crew chief in F Company, 159th Aviation Regiment - "Big Windy" - (she might be the only female crew chief at Bagram?):


U.S. Army Spc. Rachel Jump covers one of the engines on her CH-47 Chinook. Jump joined the military six years ago and has worked her way up to crew chief. U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Cora Gerth

Story in the Extended Section.

Crew Chief Intrigued by Blackhawks, Chinooks

By U.S. Army Pvt. Cora Gerth
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, April 12, 2005 — As U.S. Army Spc. Rachel Jump maintains her CH-47 Chinook, there's something unique that stands out -- she is the only female crew chief in sight.

Jump joined the military six years ago at the age of 17. She joined the Illinois National Guard Unit in Peoria after years of watching war movies with her father, and being intrigued by the sight of Chinooks and Blackhawks.

"I knew that when I would join the military that I wanted to have a job with aircraft, so I enlisted as a 15U-helicopter repairer," said Jump.

Soon after enlisting, Jump changed her military occupational specialty to a 68D - an aircraft power train repairer. During advanced individual training, she was the only female in the class.

Now she is in F Company, 159th Aviation "Big Windy" from Giebelstadt, Germany.

As her experience progressed, she moved from mechanic to the flight platoon, where she earned a position as crew chief.

Jump hasn't let being the minority get in the way of her job.

"I am hard to offend," she said. Jump knows that she is successful because of her ability to adapt to her environment and overcome obstacles.

As a crew chief, Jump is responsible for keeping her Chinook operational and ready at all times. Before a flight, she ensures that weapons, ammunition, food, water, and other supplies are stocked. While in flight, she conducts air space surveillance by making sure the aircraft is all clear on both sides. Her other tasks include assisting passengers, strapping down cargo and stabilizing loads.

Jump is passionate about being a crew chief.

"I love to fly," she said. "You get to see different places from different angles. This is something not everyone can experience."

Seeing the smiles and hard work Jump puts into her job, it's evident just how much she cares about flying. Jump offered her advice for other females pursuing this career, "Work hard, study, and you can do it."