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Wolf Pack celebrates Women’s History Month: officer edition

Airmen pose for a photo.

Capt. Jennifer Nuanes, 8th Maintenance Squadron officer in charge of maintenance operations, Capt. Kimberlie Kirkpatrick, 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit OIC of maintenance operations, 1st Lt. Christina Nunley, 35th AMU OIC of maintenance operations, and 1st Lt. Lydia Kim, 35th AMU assistant OIC of maintenance operations, pose for a group photo in front of an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 19, 2021. The four female officers are collectively in charge of the Airmen providing munitions, specialized aircraft maintenance and maintenance operations support for the wing’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)

An Airman walks down the flight line.

Maj. Taylor “Raven” Barela, 8th Operations Support Squadron senior intelligence officer, walks down the flightline at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 30, 2021. Barela provides intelligence to inform F-16 Fighting Falcon flight operations, by exploiting all possible information available about our nation's adversaries, while carefully protecting any information that would display vulnerabilities regarding friendly forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)

Airmen pose for a photo.

1st Lt. Manervia McDonald, 8th Comptroller Squadron flight commander of financial analysis, poses for a photo with 8th CPTS female Airmen at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 30, 2021. McDonald and her team are responsible for ensuring the maximum efficiency for the Wolf Pack by planning, organizing and evaluating cost-analysis programs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)

An Airman poses for a photo.

Col. Jennifer “Falcon” Phelps, 8th Mission Support Group commander, poses for a photo in front of a plaque dedicated to the previous “Falcons” at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 31, 2021. Originally an engineer officer, Phelps is one of the two female group commanders on the installation. As the 8th MSG commander, or “Falcon”, she is responsible for the leadership and management of five diverse squadrons that provide base communications, engineering, security, law enforcement, transportation, supply, personnel support, logistics readiness, education, food services, housing and recreation activities to more than 2,700 active duty Airmen and Soldiers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)

KUNSAN AIR BASE AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --

Each March we celebrate Women’s History Month. This is the fourth story in a series of women serving here at the Wolf Pack.

Looking back, women have gone from second-class citizens to 4-star general officers.

Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot; 1st Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest, the first female U.S. Army Ranger School graduates; and retired Gen. Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody, who in 2008 became the first woman to achieve four-star general, are all examples of female officers who took the lead.

At the Wolf Pack, female officers lead at all levels, to include flights, squadrons and groups. According to Col. Jennifer “Falcon” Phelps, 8th Mission Support Group commander, serving at the group level is a humbling experience.

“I have the opportunity to lead some of the best leaders the Air Force has to offer,” Phelps said. “I also get to work alongside an outstanding team that truly seeks to take care of Airmen while getting the job done. I really couldn’t ask for more.

“Where I am and who I’ve become is a testament to those people who invested in me, guided me, pushed me and walked with me,” she said.

According to Phelps, being an officer presents both formal and informal educational opportunities. Learning is a part of growing as a leader, no matter your rank.  

“I tell all my young officers growing up in the intelligence career field, to learn everything you can about your job and mission set,” said Maj. Taylor Barela, 8th Operations Support Squadron chief of wing intelligence. “Recognize that it is okay to fail at this level, as long as you learn and grow from those failures.

“It is crucial for us, as young intelligence professionals, to become experts in our mission set,” she said. “Not only to execute the mission, but to lead those under our charge. By learning from our successes and failures, we are shaping ourselves for future leadership opportunities in order to pass along our experiences and build the intelligence generations that come after us.”

For Phelps, military service and leadership in general can be described as a journey.

“Journey is a great term,” Phelps said. “I did not envision serving over 20 years when I graduated in 1998. I knew that I wanted to serve, to travel and to learn. I’ve been blessed to do those things far more than I thought possible.

”I’ve served alongside amazing people from all walks of life, many of whom have been my best teachers.”

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, remember to reflect on the progress that’s been made and the battles women continue to fight in the name of equality. Learn from those who have gone before.

“I truly learn new things every day, regardless of the shape my classroom takes,” Phelps said. “In my mind, that’s quite a journey and I am grateful for the opportunities along the way.”