UCT Sapphire Event 2022

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

The Mustang Beach Club at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, quickly filled with hundreds of Airmen by 9:30 a.m. March 11, 2022. Eager JROTC members, ROTC members, Undergraduate Combat Systems Officers, CSOs and community partners, patiently waited for the start of the presentations.

During the Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer Training Sapphire Event, attendees learned about the career from current and recent senior leaders, and listened to the experiences of the U.S. Air Force’s first female navigators exactly 45 years after they began training.

“I think people need to know that there were people who went before us who struggled too, so that I can be where I am now, so I can be a role model for those people coming after,” said Ret. Lt. Col. Florence “Flo” Parker, one of the Air Force’s first female navigators, Class 78-01.

Guest speakers, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Brenda Cartier, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command director of operations and communications, and U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Leslie Maher, Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development commander, provided insight on what it means to be a CSO.

The generals shared memorable events from their time in the career field and gave some advice to the diverse audience. If being a CSO is what they wanted to do, then they needed to go after it. They said If you are good at what you do, you will be supported in your journey.

“I went through as a student in 2014 and it wasn't uncommon to have just one female in a class of 20 or so males, but as the women today stated, they were always really welcoming to me and made me feel like ‘Hey, if you are good at your job, I don't really care if your purple, or if your female, as long as you can do the job,’' said U.S. Air Force Capt. Cassie “Dutchess” Alexander, 479th Flying Training Group combat systems officer. “I think the word is getting out and women are seeing people like me, people like the generals who spoke today, getting into their positions, and they are thinking, ‘I can get in those roles, I can be a CSO, I can be on a plane and effect the mission.’”