1st SOSS member with superhero strength

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Miranda Mahoney
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Growing up, she imagined how her future would look. She pictured different career paths to pursue, varying styles of homes to live in and her husband’s possible characteristics, but one thing was always certain for her, she would be a mom.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Erin Mann, a geospatial intelligence analyst with the 1st Special Operations Support Squadron, became a mother nearly four years ago, but it wasn’t how she had always pictured it to be.

“When I found out I was pregnant, I was in a situation I didn’t want to be in,” said Mann. “It was devastating. I had to balance the fact that I was having a child, which is something I had always wanted, but it wasn’t the right time or with the right person.”

Mann was pregnant with her daughter, Ava, at 19 years old. She ended up receiving full custody and knew she needed to provide for Ava on her own. Mann decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the Air Force, even though she was afraid of moving out of her parent’s house and away from her support system.

“I realized, you can be scared of a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” said Mann. “If you push yourself to make it happen, and make it work, you can do a lot more than you think.”

Mann said it has been really helpful to be in a unit full of parents who understand what it is like to raise children in the military.

“As an active-duty mother of three, I can certainly relate to Mann,” said Master Sgt. Lindsay Smith, the geospatial intelligence section chief for the 1st SOSS. “Several years ago, when one of my children was hospitalized, my leadership really came through for me and my family. I’ll never forget that and always try to keep that perspective. We are a team and need to look out for each other. The better you know your teammates, the easier it will be to recognize when they need help.”

Mann said one of her biggest challenges is balancing time. She wants to do well at work, but she also needs to be there for Ava. She said her unit recognizes that and are flexible when they can be.

When Mann has quality time to spend with her daughter, she makes the most of it. They do everything together. Her hobbies are Ava’s hobbies too, like jet-skiing and paddle-boarding.

Mann smiled as she described her daughter and all she can do at just three years old, easily listing a ton of her characteristics in a matter of seconds.

“She always lights up when she mentions her daughter, and it is clear how much she loves her,” Smith said.

Although Mann thought circumstances surrounding her becoming a mother would be different, she would not change how it happened. She said she has grown as a person and it has made her strong.

“You are playing two roles as one person, with only one person’s time, only one set of hands, and you are making it all happen,” said Mann. “To me, that is a superhero’s capability.”