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Women’s History Month: 419 FW commander remembers milestones, personal journey to cockpit

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  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Hill hosted a Women’s History lunch last week, featuring the commander of the 419th Fighter Wing, Col. Regina “Torch” Sabric, as keynote speaker.

Sabric is the first woman to command the 419th FW and the first female pilot in the Air Force Reserve to fly the F-35. She has flown 11 different types of aircraft throughout and has 24 years of flying experience.

Women’s History Month highlights the accomplishments and contributions of American women. During her speech, Sabric discussed women’s accomplishments throughout U.S. and military history.

“Even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Abigail Adams, wife of founding father John Adams, wrote a letter to her husband and the Continental Congress to ‘remember the ladies’ and ‘be more generous to them than your ancestors,’” Sabric said. “She also implored them to give women a voice and representation as they formed the future of our nation.”

Sabric noted how women in the arts have shaped the cultural narrative, citing authors like Louisa May Alcott and Emily Dickinson as “legendary names in literature whose stories remain a vital part of education from grade school to grad school.”

She said that while some states granted women the right to vote earlier on, the country as a whole took that step in 1920, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, thanks to women like Susan B. Anthony and others who contended that women have a say in the nation’s interests.

Sabric said aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, “whose brave contributions to flight still make their way into our history books and our imagination, is very close to my heart.”

Women’s military contributions date back to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, where they “served as cooks and laundresses, but also as spies – a little known fact,” Sabric said.

“Women served as nurses and in support roles during World War I, where 400 were killed. They also participated in an expanded range of non-combat roles during World War II to include mechanics, ambulance drivers, and field intelligence.”

In 1948, women were permitted to serve as permanent members of the U.S. military. Nearly 11,000 women were deployed to serve in the Vietnam War – many as nurses in forward-deployed M.A.S.H units. Women were allowed to fly fighter jets but weren’t allowed to fly combat missions until 1998, Sabric said.

“The policy excluding women from ground combat was rescinded in 2013. And in 2016, all combat jobs were opened up to women,” she said. “The Marine Corps welcomed its first female infantry members in 2017.”

In closing, Sabric encouraged women to reach for their goals.

“We’ve gotten to the point where it’s no longer a conversation as to whether women can pursue a particular career path. Women are no longer just filling quotas because they are female. They are in positions because they’re the best for the job,” she said.

“We got to this point because of the women before us who paved the way and the men who advocated for us,” she said. “It’s important to celebrate Women’s History Month and recognize these milestones, because it allows us to see how far we’ve come.”

A group of fifth- and sixth-grade girls from nearby schools also took the stage during the luncheon to make presentations on the influential women they admire.