JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., –
Throughout American history, women have helped build the nation while fighting for equal rights for themselves and others. Women's History Month recognizes these women for their hard work and positive influences.
For Joint Base Charleston, Women's History Month recognizes women serving in the military and highlights the sacrifices they made to be successful. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Erin Stroup, 628th Security Forces Squadron coxswain, is one such woman.
As a coxswain, Stroup is a part of the Harbor Patrol Unit that navigates the waters around the Naval Weapons Station protecting the base and its harbors.
"Our main job is to provide anti-terrorism force protection for the two training ships in the Nuclear Power Training Unit," said Stroup.
On an average day, Stroup will patrol the Cooper River and Goose Creek on a two hour patrol rotation. Two hours are spent patrolling on a boat and the next two hours by car.
"When we patrol, it's quite amazing on just how many different types of watercraft we'll see,said Stroup. "We see anything from tubers to fishermen and tourists."
Stroup says providing security to the base's waterfronts and the Navy Nuclear Power Training Unit at the Weapons Station reduces the risk of attack.
Having this responsibility, Stroup demonstrates one of the many important roles women have in the military.
"Doing what I do shows that women are equal to men and can do just about anything," said Stroup.
Being a female, Stroup says proving she can step up to the plate, just like the guys, as well as other women in her career field, is a bit of a challenge but one she is willing to meet.
"To prove yourself as an equal to the men is a little tough. Because there are a lot more guys here, it can seem difficult at times trying to fit in, when you are outnumbered," said Stroup.
Though women are outnumbered in some career fields, it doesn't stop them from getting their feet in the door.
"At one point, there were jobs women weren't allowed to do. Now, you look around and women are can do amazing things," said Stroup. "From working on submarines, to joining special (operations) career fields. On top of that, the military is seeing more and more women joining each year."
Having the opportunity to do more and more as the years pass in the military, makes gender equality a reality, she added.
"Women can do anything in this world. Any job, no matter how hard or dangerous," said Stroup.
(This is the fourth story to a five-part series on Women's History Month.)