Mike Joyal, a recently-retired USAFA graduate, asked me what my diary listed as “Ten Reasons to Stay” at the Air Force Academy. I wrote this list during the Fall Academic Semester in 1976, when I was a member of the first class that included women. Most of the reasons are fairly mundane, such as “money” and “security.” The decisive factors, however, were the reasons that stressed my individuality.*
Civilians often assume the military does not foster individuality. My experience, however, is that stripping a person of their outward appearance, their family background, their posturing, and their economic background, spotlights that person’s unique talents and personality.
Here are my reasons for staying at the Academy, Copyright 2010 by Anne Martin Fletcher. Please include the copyright notice if you forward these:
“Reasons to Stay:
- Cross-country [Team] next year*
- I’m doing something unique and new and real and hard*
- I get unhappy and depressed no matter where I am
- To prove something to the John Schultz’s of the world*
- To please Coach Williams [my high school biology teacher and cross-country coach, and a source of inspiration to me]
- To be different [not from other cadets, but from general society]*
- To be Indoor Track Captain*
- Track and Cross-country count twice because of the [high quality] coaching I’m getting
- I might feel differently after Thanksgiving
Okay, so maybe I couldn’t count late at night when I was a Doolie (or “Dolie” as the women were often called).
As a reminder, Title Nine, the legislation that required universities to create varsity athletic programs for women, had just passed. Most colleges across the country delayed implementing Title IV as long as they could. Imagine, no track, basketball, soccer, or softball teams for women who chose to go to a college. Female varsity college athletes were rare and unique.
As another reminder, at the time I wrote these reasons, the Air Force did not train women to be pilots. If I knew that I would learn to fly jets, I am sure that would have been number one on the list.