A Huntington Beach woman was part of the first combat sortie to involve only females.
Captain Jennifer Morton was part of a two-ship formation composed of two female pilots and two female weapons officers when the "Strike Eagles of 'Dudette 07' " took to the skies over Afghanistan on March 30.
A release from Tech. Sgt. Michael Voss of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing's Public Affairs office quotes Lt. Col. Kenneth Tilley, the wing's historian, saying the mission represented the first combat sortie on record to involve only female airmen from the pilots and weapons officers to the mission planners and maintainers.
The mission was inspired by Women's History Month, but the goal was to provide air support for coalition and Afghan forces under enemy fire in Kunar Valley, near the Pakistan border.
"We knew we were going to support the guys on the ground by probably at the very least making some noise, and most likely that we were going to have to drop some bombs," Morton says in the statement.
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"All four of us being females, that was definitely nice for the ground guys to hear that they had, you know, women protecting them of course. Not that we're any different from the guys, but it's just a guy thing that they like to hear that sometimes."
The weapons officer's F-15E jet was piloted by Maj. Christine Mau, a Southern California native and the 455th AEW's executive officer. "I have flown with female pilots before, but this was the first time I have flown in an all-female flight," Mau says in the release. "This wasn't a possibility when I started flying 11 years ago."
Maj. Tracy Schmidt piloted the other F-15E with weapons officer Capt. Kimberly Volk aboard.
Morton deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.