Coming of Age in the First Class of Women
at the United States Air Force Academy
Anne Martin Fletcher
Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency
Groundbreaker: Coming of Age in the First Class of Women at the United States Air Force Academy describes the emotional transformation that changes ordinary American teenagers into American warriors. It also tells my personal story of dealing with a conniving roommate, three upper class cadets bent on forcing me to quit, and the constant temptation to fraternize, while resolving to be true to my own nature — if only I can discover whatever that is.
In the beginning, I served as a pawn in an ongoing battle to prove that society and its institutions, including the military, benefit from having a large, diverse talent pool to draw from. Neither side knew if women would withstand the physical and psychological rigors of male-centric military training. Just as important a question was: could men bond with women to form a cohesive military unit?
In the end, about as many women adapted to military training as did the men, and most of the men did learn to “fight” next to a woman. Respect, where none currently exists, must not only be earned, but demanded. Cadets must sort out conflicting loyalties: between societal norms and non-traditional roles, between roommates and classmates and the upperclassmen, between religious beliefs and training to be a warrior. Leadership and self-confidence go hand-in-hand. I learned what the military as an institution is still struggling with: that the most able units—those that are the most flexible, collaborative, committed, and effective—are diverse units who treat each individual as a unique talent, instead of as a stereotype.