"Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom. That our resolve was just as great as the brave men who stood among us. And with victory our hearts were just as full and beat just as fast — that the tears fell just as hard for those we left behind." - World War 2 Army Nurse

To Free A Man To Fight

To Free A Man To Fight

“The defense of our nation is a shared responsibility. Women have served in the defense of this land for years before our United States was born. They have contributed their talents, skills and courage to this endeavor for more than two centuries with an astounding record of achievement that stretches from Lexington and Concord to the Persian Gulf and beyond.” […]

Finding Fire

Finding Fire

“I don’t mean to overstate what is yet unknown, but part of me believes when the story of earth is told, all that will be remembered is the truth we exchanged. The vulnerable moments. The terrifying risk of love and the care we took to cultivate it. And all the rest, the distracting noise of insecurity and the flattery and […]

“Damn Female Taking My Shore Billet!”

“Damn Female Taking My Shore Billet!”

The year was 1980. It is springtime in Helena, Montana, and Judy Allen-Kunz is 22 years old, raising an 18-month old baby with Phil Kunz, an Army veteran who is attending college. Tired of the harsh Montana winters and waitressing with no end in sight, Judy decides to enlist in the United States Navy, the same day Mount St. Helens […]

Once A Dark Green Marine…

Once A Dark Green Marine…

There is a moment at dawn before the training day starts at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot that peace and contentment fills the air. There in a land “where Marines are forged in a furnace of shared hardship and tough training,” creating bonds so strong they last a lifetime. There in the quiet solitude of the last shift of fire […]

A Road Less Traveled

A Road Less Traveled

“It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure,” they said. “Let the journey begin,” they said. Travel the world; learn a skill, they said. In the Navy, Melody Pyles did all that and then some. But it took over a decade of battling egos before she would find herself on top of the hill in Makakilo, in an apartment with […]

Now This Is War

Now This Is War

Civilians in peace. Soldiers in War. Earlier in 2020, governors expanded the role of National Guard units to combat the spread of COVID-19. All 50 states issued emergency declarations and over 17,000 National Guard personnel were activated and deployed across all 50 states. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in August 2005, my friend Tanya Couckuyt, then Sergeant Couckuyt […]

No Penis Envy Here

No Penis Envy Here

If I could name one woman who stuck out and challenged me the most during my Army service, it would be LeeAnn Castorena. Talking to her 15 years after we both got out of the military, I’d finally diffused the tension. I never quite understood what it was about, but sure enough in blunt LeeAnn fashion, she would tell me […]

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Carol Roane fell in love with another woman. It’s the late 1980’s. Gays and lesbians in the military amounted to the modern day version of the Salem witch trials. That’s because in 1981, the Department of Defense would issue a complete ban of homosexuals in the military. Imagine grappling with your own sexuality when you know you might be burned […]

Diamonds from a Tuna Fish Can

Diamonds from a Tuna Fish Can

On June 25, 1996, the United States Air Force would suffer one of the most horrific attacks in its history when terrorists detonated explosives on the Khobar Towers complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The explosion would kill 19 Airmen and injure more than 350 service members and civilians. Across the globe in a small town in California, Stephanie Sinnock (now […]

Through True Love and a Crystal, Darkly

Through True Love and a Crystal, Darkly

I’m going to tell you a story about the Cold War. It’s one with tales of spy planes and high-tech weather vanes, top secret bases with top secret missions. In it the Russians were a constant threat. But it is a tale, ultimately, about friendly fire–or not-so-friendly fire. It’s a tale where men are not always heroic, where they lived […]