Defensor Fortis: 81st SFS historic all-female flight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Davis
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

The first all-female flight of Keesler defenders conducted operations and secured the base on March 30.

Tech. Sgts. Chelsie Suggs and Jessica Martinez Santana, 81st Security Forces Squadron flight sergeants, led the historic all-female flight in honor of Women’s History Month.

Senior Airman Shamari Carter, 81st SFS reports and analysis technician, recalls how she had tried to start support clubs for female Defenders but hadn’t gotten much traction until Suggs and Martinez empowered her efforts.

“I had all these ideas and the two of them helped me – they brought the ‘secret sauce’ we needed to get both female and male defenders to the table to have full participation,” said Carter. “I had all these ideas, they helped make it happen, and here we are with this flight today.”

There are over 38,000 defenders across the Air Force, but women have only been allowed to serve in Security Forces since 1985.

“When I first came into Security Forces, we didn’t even have that many females. Typically, there would be one female on a flight, or one female in the kennels as a military working dog handler, or even just one female working in combat arms as an instructor,” said Martinez Santana. “But now, to be capable to assemble an all-female flight speaks volumes to where our culture is changing.”

The flight secured positions across the installation in entry control, patrol and base defense operations for 12 hours.