JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
According to www.womenshistorymonth.gov, Women's History Month began in 1982 as "Women's History Week." The week was designated to highlight generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet had proven invaluable to society.
For Joint Base Charleston, Women's History Month recognizes women serving in the military and highlighting the sacrifices they made to be successful. Master Sgt. Christina Brooks, 437th Operational Support Squadron superintendent, is one such woman.
Besides being a superintendent, Brooks' is a combat crew communications technician. These technicians install the materials needed on aircraft to ensure secure communication between the pilots, crews, other aircraft (including friend or foe identification) and ground control.
"When it comes to the crew communications side of things, we supply aircrews with secure crypto logical communications materials needed down range to identify friend or foe," said Brooks.
This equipment assists in preventing losses and improves overall mission success.
"Without this equipment they wouldn't be able to communicate with people on the ground, which potentially, could cause catastrophic loss," said Brooks. "These people could be accidentally identified as an enemy and get shot down. Our success rate would suffer and we could lose a lot of assets to friendly fire."
While crew communications helps improve the overall mission success rate and she has been a part of it for a few years now, it wasn't Brooks' original career field.
"This is my third job," said Brooks. "When I first joined, I was a computer technician until a career merger back in 2009 that turned me into a cyber-security technician. However, when I found out I was coming to this base and I was going to be a part of crew communications, I had no idea what that was. I tried googling it, looking it up on af.mil, but still nothing. It was interesting to learn as I went."
Even though Brooks is in a smaller career field, she says she still has big shoes to fill. Being a third generation military member in her family, Brooks wanted to join as soon as she was able. Her father, however, recommended she wait until later in life.
"When I was 17 I asked my dad if I could join the military. He told me to go to college first. After a while, I realized I wanted to do something more in my life. So before I was past the age limit, I joined and have enjoyed my decision to join more and more as each day passes," said Brooks.
According to Master Sgt. Jamie Britt, 437th Operational Support Squadron weather flight chief, Brooks is an amazing mentor to everyone in the unit.
"She is a great superintendent," said Britt. "She does a lot for the Airmen here; it's honestly a privilege to have her around."
Thanks to the many opportunities provided by the Air Force, Brooks been able to become a superintendent and travel the world. Her favorite destination was Turkey.
"Being stationed in Turkey was my greatest opportunity," said Brooks. "That was the first time I had been outside of the states aside from taking vacations. It was a humbling experience to see what we as American's take for granted daily. Being overseas definitely made me appreciate the small things even more. For instance, in Turkey, central air conditioning was not common. It was also nice to see how friendly people could be to outsiders who could barely speak the language.
Brooks said she would never have had the opportunity to lead without the hard work and dedication from women before her.
"It is a great way to reflect and see how far women have progressed in society over the years, said Brooks. "For instance, gaining the right to vote in 1920 to now where a female is currently a Democratic presidential candidate. It is also interesting to see the shift in the workforce. In the 1920's women held jobs in the candy industry; private household employment; canning industries; cotton mills and spin rooms."
Over time, women have continued to make marked progress. The federal Department of Labor, notes that women made up 57% of the labor force in 2014.
Women's History Month is significant to Brooks, to her it shows the growth and prosperity of women throughout the years.
"I appreciate Women's History Month," said Brooks. "It allows articles like this to get out, which benefits women to show that women can be successful and we can overcome whatever is thrown at us."
(This is the first story of a five-part series on Women's History Month.)