-----Original Message-----
From: Gale
Cc: VOICEFORVETERANS@aol.com
Sent: Tue, 26 Feb 2008 3:18 am
Subject: FW: "Women At War"

To Whom It May Concern:

I am sending you a courtesy copy of the email I sent to the other addressees in this email. I don’t know who Antonio Guerrero is, nor do I know of his little “operation westwold”. I’ve provided some information below that helps to show some of the important roles women have played in combat over the years. Ground troops are an important element to the military and to war, however, they are not the only ones who wear badges of honor for their part in wars. They can’t do the job all by themselves, nor can any other single branch or specialty regiment/unit.

It was my observation that even seasoned male combat veterans may not be able to serve in one war as they may have in previous combat duties. My sister and I were briefly staged on the same compound during the Gulf War—she in the Army, me in the Air Force. Her OIC was a male Lt Col, who also served in Vietnam. Naturally, he was looked upon as trained and educated in warfare by everyone in the AOR. However, because of his experience during Vietnam, he began to have flashbacks during the SCUD attacks and had to be evacuated to Frankfurt. So, it is foolish to assume that only men can serve effectively in combat, even (or especially) if they have prior experience.

There is another report that is good reading on women in combat here: http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2226/context/cover/ It’s three years old, but still relevant.

Gale

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From: Gale [mailto:reidg@knology.net]
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 6:04 PM
Subject: RE: "Women At War"

You’d better make yourself a pot of coffee and sit down for a few minutes to read what I have attached in this email (it is lengthy) on “Women At War”. I don’t know how I ended up in this email listing, but I’m really annoyed there are some ignorant fools out there who want to compare today’s women in combat to the USO entertainers during the Vietnam war. I, for one, am service-connected for combat-related conditions from the Gulf War as an aeromedical technician (C-130s). What’s even more idiotic is for anyone to forget that there are more than just Army or Marines serving in wars, and no one branch of military can win a war without the help of the others.

Too many women veterans EARNED the respect and right for combat-related service recognition for their contributions and sacrifices to allow ignorant stereotyping by you or anyone else-- some, paid for it with their lives! It’s too bad our own fellow veterans pay such little honor or tribute to their female comrades in the military, especially in combat!!

I'm REALLY SURPRIZED to know there are brothers-in-arms out there who are totally ignorant of roles women have played in combat, especially since the Gulf War. At first, it was very hurtful for me to know and think the ignorance and prejudices about women in war and combat are even more prevalent than I first thought, but then it gives me great pleasure to bring some of these great ladies to your attention.

Whereas, there are some areas of combat women have been barred from by the Army and Navy, there are definitely roles where women do participate in armed conflict. Some call these positions "combat support" positions and others don't make a distinction because women were definitely there in hostile actions.

This is an excellent link for learning not only women's roles in the military, but their contributions in war: http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/index.html

Someone even told me once it was “against the law” for women to be in combat… Maybe you better tell these ladies "it's against the law":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:C-130_-_First_all_female_crew.jpg

Description From left to right, Staff Sgt. Josie E. Harshe, flight engineer; Capt. Anita T. Mack, navigator; 1st Lt. Siobhan Couturier, pilot; Capt. Carol J. Mitchell, aircraft commander; and loadmasters Tech. Sgt. Sigrid M. Carrero-Perez and Senior Airman Ci Ci Alonzo, pause in the cargo bay of their C-130 for a group photo following their historic flight.

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Sept. 27, 2005 — A crew of six Airmen at a forward deployed location climbed aboard a C-130 Hercules together recently for the first time in their careers. But something distinguished this mission from others they had flown --it was the first time an all-female C-130 crew flew a combat mission.

Source page image

Date September 27, 2005

Author U.S. Air Force photo

Permission public domain

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lori_Piestewa

Lori Piestewa
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Lori Piestewa, shortly before deploying to IraqSPC Lori Ann Piestewa (December 14, 1979 – March 23, 2003) was a U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps soldier killed during the same Iraqi Army attack in which her friend Jessica Lynch was injured. A member of the Hopi tribe, Piestewa was the first woman killed in the 2003 Iraq war and is the first Native American woman to die in combat while serving with the U.S. military.

Contents [hide]
1 Piestewa's youth
2 Ambush in Nasiriyah, Iraq
3 Honoring Piestewa
4 References
5 External links

[edit] Piestewa's youth
Piestewa was born and raised in Tuba City, Arizona, a town with more than a 50% unemployment rate, to a Hopi father (Terry) and a mother of Mexican ancestry.[1] Her family had a long military tradition, with both Piestewa's father and grandfather having served in the U.S. Army. Neighbors described her as, while generally supportive of the army, having joined primarily to provide a secure income for her and her two children, Brandon and Carla Whiterock.

As a child, she was given the Hopi name Köcha-Hon-Mana (also spelled Qotsa-hon-mana, meaning White Bear Girl).[1] Her surname, Piestewa, is derived from a Hopi language root meaning "water pooled on the desert by a hard rain"; thus, Piestewa translates loosely as "the people who live by the water."

[edit] Ambush in Nasiriyah, Iraq
Piestewa was a member of the army's 507th Army Maintenance Company, a support unit of clerks, repairmen and cooks. Her company lost their way during the opening days of the war and ran into an ambush in Nasiriyah, in southern Iraq, on March 23, 2003.

Attempting to save herself and others, Piestewa drove a Humvee through a hail of gunfire until the vehicle was struck by a rocket propelled grenade and crashed. Three other soldiers in the Humvee died in the crash. Piestewa and Jessica Lynch both survived but were severely wounded. They were taken prisoner, with Piestewa dying soon after of her wounds. A video of some of the American Prisoners of War, including Piestewa (filmed shortly before she died in an Iraqi hospital), was later shown around the world on Al Jazeera television.

[edit] Honoring Piestewa
Piestewa was awarded the Purple Heart and Prisoner of War Medal (although a number of people felt that she deserved additional medals for her actions). The army posthumously promoted her from Private First Class to Specialist.

Jessica Lynch has repeatedly said that Piestewa is the true hero of the ambush and named her daughter Dakota Ann in honor of her fallen comrade. In addition, many entities have honored her memory with memorials. Arizona's state government renamed Squaw Peak in the Phoenix Mountains (whose original name some found offensive) near Phoenix as Piestewa Peak. In addition, Senator Tom Daschle honored her, as did Indian Nations across America. Since her death, the Grand Canyon Games organizers have held an annual Lori Piestewa National Native American Games, which brings participants from across the country. A plaque bearing her name is also located at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. A freeway in Arizona also bears her name.

Her death led to a rare joint prayer gathering between members of the Hopi and Navajo tribes, which have had a centuries-old rivalry.

In May 2005, Lori's parents and kids had a brand-new home built by Ty Pennington and his crew on ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition accompanied by Jessica Lynch. They also built a new veteran's center on the Navajo reservation.
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http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/femvetsds.html

Women Were There!

The conflict in the Persian Gulf began on Aug. 2, 1990, after talks between Iraq and Kuwait did not resolve grievances over oil pricing. Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, sent armies to invade Kuwait.

On the day of Kuwait's invasion, President George Bush placed a U.S. economic embargo against Iraq. The United Nations Security Council quickly followed suit. On Aug. 7, after Saddam Hussein refused to remove his troops from Kuwait, Pres. Bush ordered Operation Desert Shield to begin.

Efforts by the U.N. Security Council for a peaceful resolution with Iraq proved futile. On Jan. 15, the council appealed to Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait - nothing happened - at 12 noon the deadline for peace had passed.

On January 16th Operation Desert Storm began. Key Iraqi military targets such as heavily-fortified command and communications centers, missile launch sites, radar facilities, airports and runways, and Iraqi ground forces were under heavy day-and-night air and ground attacks from that day on.

By Feb. 25 thousands upon thousands of Iraqi soldiers abandoned their stockpiles of equipment, weapons and ammunition and surrendered. On Feb. 27 the Iraqi military was scattered and defeated and Kuwait was liberated!

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Mobilization for the Gulf war included an unprecedented proportion of women from the active forces (7%) as well as the Reserve and National Guard (17%). It was the largest female deployment in U.S. history.

Over 40,000 US military women served in key combat-support positions throughout the Persian Gulf Region.

Women in Desert Storm did everything the male troops did except engage in ground combat - they could essentially get fired upon - they just weren't, by existing regulations, theoretically allowed to shoot back!

However here is an excellent quote on the way it really was:

"I was a female paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I want to make you aware of the fact that the females in the 82nd were among the ground troops that pushed into Iraq during the ground war...and we most definitely could shoot back."

Many thanks to Kathy Forstner Cooper

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Sixteen women died during the war and two were held prisoner.

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Coast Guard Boatswain`s Mate 3rd Class Robin Eckel is armed with an M-60 machine gun and 7.62mm ammunition as she maintains her post aboard a port security boat during Operation Desert Shield. Location: SAUDI ARABIA Date Shot: 13 MAY 1992, Camera Operator: PA1 USCG Chuck Kalnbach. Department of Defense Photo

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The following is one of the many wonderful notes from women veterans and I've asked Julie for her permission to share it with you. The picture is of her children greeting her upon her return from the Gulf.

I was one of the fortunate ones who served with a group of thirty men in my platoon who respected me and bonded in a way beyond gender. We moved thirty seven times in six months, went over three months without a shower, slept on top of the HMMVY and ate MRE's most of the time. The focus of most articles I've read was on the mechanics of women in military service. They seem to forget that we are all human beings. We shared family pictures, letters, talked about favorite things we missed. We learned a lesson that I hope to keep for the rest of my life - that people are what is important. It was understood that I would be there for them as they were there for me. This is why the friendships have been maintained since the Gulf War. I was introduced to a wife or girlfriend as my "war buddy". My children have grown up knowing them as my best friends. As to the mechanics, I qualified expert with most weapons (.38,.45, 9mm, M16, M50, M60, Gernade launcher etc.) I did everything from night guard during the ground war to driving an Abrams tank. They trusted my abilities, but more important was the fact that they trusted me. SGT Julie Tovsen 95B, 79th MP Company

Here is another comment from a Gulf war veteran:
"I am a Desert Shield Veteran. I was a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps with Marine Air Control Group One (MACS 1) when we deployed to the Persian Gulf. When the military was first deployed into the Persian Gulf theater, they were not allowed to take the women of their unit. It was said at that point that to take the women in what the Arabian society considered "men's roles" would offend them and that would hurt the war effort. I was the only military intelligence specialist in my unit. I donned my gear, my weapons and a very concealing flak jacket. Ten days after the beginning of the war I was in-country with my fellow Marines. I kept a low profile and did the job I that I had trained with my unit for 3 years to do. I am told that I was one of the first women in-country at that time. This passed without fanfare, without ceremony, and more women came.
Women in combat? There have always been women in combat. Gender does not make a person a hero, no more than the color of their skin or the amount of money in their pocket. It is what lies within a person's heart and character that makes a hero.
I am proud to say I am a veteran. I retired from the military in 1999 with 21+ years of service. Your web page is an inspiration to all woman veterans...."
Becky L Morgan
GySgt USMC (May 1978 - June 1992)
SFC Iowa Army National Guard (June 1992 - Dec 1999)

And yet another wonderful memory from a Marine who was there!
"Dear Capt. Barb I was a Marine in Desert Shield/Storm. I was assigned to MWSS273, out of Beaufort, S.C.. My unit flew out on Christmas Eve, and landed in Jabail, Saudi Arabia on Christmas day. Of 500 in my unit, 17 were women. Myself and 5 other women, are among the 100 Marines that built the larges/longest mobile runway in the history of organized military WORLDWIDE, and we did it twice!
I am now 10 years into a police career, and know a lot of former Marines who give me the credit earned. Still, no one understands that I was THERE! I captured an Iraqi soldier. I had another Marine die in my arms, from Nerve Gas poisoning. Still, most credit only goes to the men, God Bless them too though.
Thank you for this site. I cannot say it didn't bring back some hard memories, but at least, it recognizes that we were there. And we live with hard memories too, and we are proud too, and we would do it all over again...too. On a side note, even though my unit took fire...a lot...we were not afforded the Combat Medal, because woman were not "in combat" so the records show. All 17 of us were bussed South when the IG came AND the unit records were changed to reflect only male Marines. My only hurt, is not to have been awarded the Combat Medal, when it was earned. Thank you so much, again, for this site.
Tracy Abernathy-Walden"
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Women Were There!
Over 40,000 were deployed and several thousand more served stateside in essential mission support roles. The service women of the '90s served in the mainstream of the mission goals of Desert Storm and demonstrated that women perform as well as men. With the so-called art of war becoming so much more technological and so much less individual ground combat, the exclusion of women from any position in the military is ludicrous. The old fashioned thinking of military planners and congressional leaders has to catch up with the advent of the 21st century. The artificial parameters placed on women in the military, and in society as well, are as antiquated as the barefoot and pregnant mind set of centuries ago. Oppression by antiquated religious, patriarchal, and misogynous quackos has to be relegated to the garbage dump from whence it came. Opportunities for intelligent capable enthusiastic women should not be denied by policy makers whose thinking is back in the 19th century.

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Beyond Desert Storm - women in the military today.
Somalia, Bosnia and More

Another well-known female in combat, Rhonda Cornum: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/gulf/war/5.html

U.S. Army flight surgeon Cornum was on a search-and-rescue helicopter looking for a downed F-16 pilot on the last day of the war. Hit by gunfire, the Blackhawk 214 smashed into the desert at 130 knots. With broken arms and other injuries, Cornum was one of three crew members who survived and was taken prisoner.

Her story begins at the point where the Iraqis are about to discover she's a woman...

But at that point, I looked up and I saw five Iraqi guys with their, you know, rifles pointed at me. So then I knew I wasn't dead. And I knew I was captured.
Then one of them reached down, grabbed me by the arm, and stood me up. And that's when he separated my already broken right arm. And then I knew I was pretty badly hurt and clearly, clearly not dead.

Were you aware, could you see the others?

Could not see. It was very dark by this time. Now it had been, it'd been cloudy and smoky when we went in, at I think it was like 4.15 in the afternoon. And I don't know what time it was when they captured us, but I would guess, probably... It was dark, completely, you know, night time, so it was a couple of hours later.

Did you assume you were the only one that'd...?

At that time I assumed I was only one that survived... 'cause I didn't anybody else. And I knew that I...

And so they... captured me and, and I got taken down into a bunker and questioned a little about... you know,

"Who are you? What are you doing here?" That stuff.

And... I came out and then they... dragged me over to this group of Iraqi soldiers. And... this group of them... it was, like, a circle of them, and they opened up and they threw me down next to somebody else, and that was Sergeant Dunlap. And that's when I knew there was another survivor.

What happened next?

Well actually, the next thing was probably the scariest thing of our entire trip there. Because they just stood there and they put their handguns to the back of our heads, and we really thought they were gonna shoot us.

We thought "Well, you know, at the end of the war, they're gonna retreat. They don't want prisoners, and this will take care of that problem."

And, you know, who knows what they're thinking. But we both thought we heard them say

"Shoot 'em!"

And then nothing happened. They dragged us back to our feet and took us down to some other bunker to get interrogated some more.

Describe the moment when they first realised they had a woman.

...They realised I was a woman when they stood me up, and at that point I had my flak jacket on and my survival vest and my weapon, all that stuff, and they started taking all this stuff off. And they took off my helmet. And when I fly, I don't wear pins and stuff in my hair, so that my hair stays up just because it's in the helmet.

So they took off my flight helmet, and all this long below shoulder length brown hair came out. And until then I'm sure they just thought I was a skinny guy. But... all of a sudden they realised, "Oh my goodness, this is a girl!"

And ... they ... became a little louder. I don't know what they said, but they were surprised to see me there.

What happened next?

And we had maybe a 30 minute ride in the dark, to Basra. I'm not even sure I knew it was Basra, except that I...knew basically where we were going on the mission. I knew that was the only city that was around. And ... they took us to a prison there.

And as you were bouncing around in that truck, how were you feeling?

I was ... just ... trying to relax, and trying to ... I don't know, I was just wondering what was happening, I guess. And that was when it... and it was this last ride, to Basra, where I got molested.

What happened?

Well, I was... just leaning back on the seat, and all of a sudden, I feel this, this guy sitting next to me, who puts his hands on my face and starts to kiss me. I thought, "Well, how bizarre!"

And... I never, I don't know what I was thinking, but I really thought, "Surely he can do better!"

I mean I've got ... a cut above my eye that's soaked with blood and ... I'm sure I don't smell very good. And I'm thinking, "How can he possibly want to do this?"

...And then he ... unzipped my flight suit and started fondling me. And I thought, "I can't believe it!"

But I really wasn't ... there was no way to fight, I couldn't move anything anyway. I didn't really want to make him real mad, I didn't want to bite him. And so I did nothing. I just sat there.

Except when he tried ... to take me by the back of the head and put my head down in his lap, and I couldn't because my arms didn't move then. And that was excrutiating.

And... I feel confident he knew he shouldn't be doing what he was doing. Because every time I'd scream, he'd quit. So I think the idea was that the guys in the front of the truck weren't supposed to know.

Why did he stop, do you think? Was it simply because he didn't realised how much pain you were in when you were screaming?

No, I don't... Well, I don't know. I suspect that ... it was more he didn't want to get in trouble. I think if the other guys hadn't been there, he probably wouldn't have stopped either way. But I don't know that. I mean ... I don't know.

I just was amazed that he would want to do that ... That was my first thought really. Just amazed.

And that was really my biggest concern. I mean, a lot of people make a big deal about getting molested, and I'm ... sure it's a ... it's a big deal. ...But in the heirarchy of things that were going wrong, that was pretty low on my list.

Well next, he stopped, zipped my flight suit back up, ... 'cause we were obviously getting to wherever it was we were going. And I was grateful that it had been a shorter trip than it could've been, I suppose...

I read in your book that you were running through `Proud to be an American'. That thing that bothered you in terms of the...

Well I ... I've spent very little of the war worried about whether or not I was female. It just didn't seem to matter. But I'm reasonably astute, and I could tell that when we came back to the States, that that was going to be on other people's minds. I mean ... there had been a few people who had comment about,...

"What are you doing there? You're a girl ..." that kind of thing.

So, I didn't want anyone to think that I was weaker or ... more emotionally vulnerable or anything like that, when I got back.

And I have to say that, when they sing that song, `I'm Proud to be an American', I mean I always well up. It's kind of like when they play Taps or something.

And ... so ... I played this song over in my mind several times. And ... when we were coming back to the States, to get the welcome back thing, I had somebody bring me a tape of it, so I could listen to it, and I could practise hearing it without crying!

Did it work?

It worked, as a matter of fact. ...The only time I cried was when I saw my kid.

Q The crusty old Colonels, who say women shouldn't be in the armed forces...

Well...

... said this a million times, but I want to ask you.

You know, the Colonels I'm not sure really say that. The people who I think are most ... against women in the military are not the Colonels. I think it's the old Generals. And, just because it's so different than what they're accustomed to.

I think by the time you're a Colonel nowadays in the army, ... your entire career you've had women. And most of the ones that I have spoken to have had basically good experiences with having mixed units.

... I think some of the young guys ... who have two things. One is that they're ... in units that don't have any, because at lower platoon level, like in the infantry, ... there aren't any women, so they don't have any experiences of having them in their unit ... And [then they have] the experience of having women in their lives that are not in the military ... So all they have to go on is ... the stereotypes they hear about.

Well, if the only experiences I had with women were my sisters and my mother, and my girlfriend, I probably wouldn't want them in the military either.

But most guys I know discover, once they have worked with women, that women are just like everybody else. There are some that are just awesome, some that are absolutely worthless, and most of 'em are just in between. And I think the percentage of males who are that way is the same as the percentage of females who are that way.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Antonio O. Guerrero <operationwestwold@yahoo.com>
To: VOICEFORVETERANS@aol.com
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 2:12:43 PM
Subject: Fw: "Women At War"

Att: VOICE FORVETERANS
You know we just wanted americanheritage.com to clarify for us the role of women in "combat'.
They paint a "john wayne" picture with the front cover of their issue, showing 3 women Marines with all their war gear and M-16s; and say that they are with the 1st Mar. Expeditiary Force, without naming their role or MOS. They don't even mention that the role of women in "combat","is limited; which we believe to be true! Let's see if they will answer this communique? We haven't heard of women being Infantrymen , or such? In the 'Nam we saw Marines with shoesrings as their rifle sling, much less any such gear that those 3 had on in the cover of that issue... It all seems to be a "Hollywood Production" in Iraq, with even Robert De Niro decked out in war gear with a Security Detail. In finality, we believe Iraq to be an "occupation".

Vietnam War Veterans @ Operation Westwold

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Antonio O. Guerrero <operationwestwold@yahoo.com>
To: editor@americanheritage.com
Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2008 5:30:04 PM
Subject: "Women At War"

Sir:

Today us ,Vietnam War Veterans on Board Operation Westwold, would like to comment on the article of American Heritage Magazine, Winter 2008, Vol.58, No.3. In that, It is fine and well that women are taking a "combat role" in U.S. Wars; in so much as your article says and implies in this paper. The article mentions women as "air jocks", "drivers", and support personnel, but fails to address the question that we have. Are women in Infantry Battalions, and Artillery Units; and what MOS are those 3 women Marines pictured on the front cover? When we were in Vietnam, the only women we saw, at times, were at USO Shows. They wouldn't have stood up to Charlie"!

Regards, Vietnam War Veterans