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Celebrating Women's History Month 2016

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jennifer Lacy builds a shelter during Combat Survival Refresher training held Nov. 3, 2013. This training aims to enhance the survivability and combat readiness of aircrew. Lacy has since been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and currently serves as commander of the 145th Force Support Squadron. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Richard Kerner/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jennifer Lacy builds a shelter during Combat Survival Refresher training held Nov. 3, 2013. This training aims to enhance the survivability and combat readiness of aircrew. Lacy has since been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and currently serves as commander of the 145th Force Support Squadron. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Richard Kerner/Released)

Nurses take a break to pose for a photo in the cockpit onboard an aircraft belonging to the 156th Airlift Squadron at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Morris Field, Charlotte, N.C.

Nurses take a break to pose for a photo in the cockpit onboard an aircraft belonging to the 156th Airlift Squadron at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Morris Field, Charlotte, N.C.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Lisa Dodge, navigator for the 156th Airlift Squadron, conducts preflight inspection onboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft prior to taking off from the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, March 3, 2016. Dodge is also the executive and training officer for the 145th Operations Support Squadron. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Lisa Dodge, navigator for the 156th Airlift Squadron, conducts preflight inspection onboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft prior to taking off from the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, March 3, 2016. Dodge is also the executive and training officer for the 145th Operations Support Squadron. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Megan Delgado-Wahl, crew chief for the 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, marshals aircrew onboard a 145th Airlift Wing, C-130 Hercules aircraft as it taxies out to runway at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Sept. 9, 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Richard Kerner, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Megan Delgado-Wahl, crew chief for the 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, marshals aircrew onboard a 145th Airlift Wing, C-130 Hercules aircraft as it taxies out to runway at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Sept. 9, 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Richard Kerner, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Leslie Minus, 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, installs frame on an Alaskan Small Shelter System, one of 16 tents being set up to house personnel participating in Vigilant Guard 2015 exercise. VG 2015, held at the 145th CES Regional Training Site, New London, N.C., March 6-8, 2015, is designed to measure the effectiveness of National Guard forces supporting civilian activities, training together as true partners in order to respond effectively to natural disasters. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Leslie Minus, 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, installs frame on an Alaskan Small Shelter System, one of 16 tents being set up to house personnel participating in Vigilant Guard 2015 exercise. VG 2015, held at the 145th CES Regional Training Site, New London, N.C., March 6-8, 2015, is designed to measure the effectiveness of National Guard forces supporting civilian activities, training together as true partners in order to respond effectively to natural disasters. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Barbara Doncaster, vice commander of the 145th Airlift Wing, reviews the training schedule for the flying mission at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, March 16, 2016. Doncaster is the first female to hold this position in the history of the NCANG. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Barbara Doncaster, vice commander of the 145th Airlift Wing, reviews the training schedule for the flying mission at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, March 16, 2016. Doncaster is the first female to hold this position in the history of the NCANG. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U. S. Air Force Master Sgt. Pennie Brawley and Airman 1st Class Nate Monroe loadmasters for the 145th Airlift Wing, perform the Load Acceptance Inspection prior to loading a heavy equipment platform onto the waiting C-130 Hercules aircraft at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Feb. 6, 2016. The inspection includes reviewing the Joint Airdrop Inspection (JAI) Form and inspecting the M-1 Cargo Parachute Release. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne Showalter/Released)

U. S. Air Force Master Sgt. Pennie Brawley and Airman 1st Class Nate Monroe loadmasters for the 145th Airlift Wing, perform the Load Acceptance Inspection prior to loading a heavy equipment platform onto the waiting C-130 Hercules aircraft at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Feb. 6, 2016. The inspection includes reviewing the Joint Airdrop Inspection (JAI) Form and inspecting the M-1 Cargo Parachute Release. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne Showalter/Released)

Airmen from the North Carolina Air National Guard stand at parade rest during a ramp formation held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Morris Field, Charlotte, N.C.

Airmen from the North Carolina Air National Guard stand at parade rest during a ramp formation held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Morris Field, Charlotte, N.C.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Shook recites the oath of office following her promotion ceremony to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Shook is the 1st woman to command the 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The promotion ceremony was held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Nov. 7, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Shook recites the oath of office following her promotion ceremony to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Shook is the 1st woman to command the 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The promotion ceremony was held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Nov. 7, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

An Air National Guard nurse takes an Airman's pulse during a physical exam at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Morris Field, Charlotte, N.C.
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An Air National Guard nurse takes an Airman's pulse during a physical exam at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Morris Field, Charlotte, N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- What started as a national celebration in 1981, when Congress authorized the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as Women's History Week, has now become a month-long celebration bringing a unique opportunity to take time to honor the hard work and contributions made by women serving in our military, both past and present.

During the 1900s, answering phone calls, maintaining records and providing minor health care were just some of the roles women were permitted to have in the military. Jobs that were left open because men left for war gave women the opportunity to step up and volunteer on the home front.

A century later, women across the Department of Defense have responsibilities such as maintaining multi-million-dollar aircraft, leading troops on battlefields and serving in higher leadership positions. They are leaders and warriors with heritages as diverse as our nation.

On a daily basis, women of the North Carolina Air National Guard provide intelligence, safeguard control centers, keep skies safe as air traffic controllers, file records and maintain secured communications capability, serve as defenders within security forces and are first responders in cases of emergencies or natural disasters. They serve as maintainers and aircraft pilots but most importantly as wingmen in all areas of a Total Force.

Over the last decade, more than 280,000 women have deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women have shown great courage and sacrifice while experiencing both challenges and opportunities to accomplish the mission.

Airmen like Capt. Lisa Dodge knows first-hand the work it took to train and fight in what used to be a man's world. After being commissioned in 2008, Dodge began her training to become a C-130 Hercules aircraft navigator. Since then she's deployed in support of Operations New Dawn, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In addition to navigating, Capt. Dodge serves as the Executive Officer for the 145th Operations Group.

"My family history in the military dates back to my grandfather who was in the Army in WWII, my father as a Marine and my stepfather in the Navy served in the Vietnam Era. My brothers in the Army and Air Force served during Desert Storm. Although I have many family members in the military and married a fellow Airman, I'm the first woman to serve and couldn't be happier with my career path," said Dodge.

Women of the 145th Airlift Wing see themselves as being part of a Total Force, leading and working to improve the quality of life for all Airmen. It has been said by many that being a good wingman is not about gender, it is about leadership and taking care of your people.

"Leadership is not defined by gender. It is believing you can make the future better. I don't believe leadership is standing up saying look what I've done but more of your people saying look what we've done," stated Col. Barbara Doncaster, the first female vice commander in the history of the 145th Airlift Wing.

Women have played a vital role in the military since the first female entered the Air National Guard in 1950, a role and commitment that continues today as more and more women take the oath to serve and protect their country, which is on a mission to fly, fight and win.