NEWS | March 22, 2021

Wolf Pack celebrates Women’s History Month: maintenance edition

By Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Each March we celebrate Women’s History Month. This is the third story in a series of women serving here at the Wolf Pack.

“Be assertive in what you say or believe,” said Airman 1st Class Toni Jakes, 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief. “To be one of us, it takes tough skin, confidence and being able to stand up for yourself.”

With women making up 21% of the military, those in male-dominated career fields, like maintenance, know the meaning of standing up to break barriers and fighting against inequality.

 “It does seem like a steep mountain to climb when it comes to being recognized for hard work and dedication as a woman in this career field,” said Senior Airman Anastasia Brown, 80th AMU F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief. “Regardless, I’ve also had the privilege of coming together with amazing and inspirational women in my career field that have helped shape and mold me into the Airman and hard worker that stands before you today.”

Inspired by those who broke barriers before them, female maintainers are no stranger to hard work as they send jets skyward.

“Even after the long hours and crazy weather, I feel a sense of accomplishment,” said Staff Sgt. Azby Rockowitz, 80th AMU weapons load crew team lead. “I know I played a part in getting that jet in the air safely and everything worked how it was intended to.”

As living proof that every day is a new opportunity to excel, maintainers – male and female alike – work hard and know their role in the overall mission.

“Give it everything -- 100%,” Brown said. “No matter what it may be, give your job your all. No matter who you are, where you come from, age, gender, race – none of it can prohibit you from being the best worker anyone has seen. Let your voice be heard and show the nonbelievers what you can do.

“It takes a special type of individual to be able to endure the hardships, long hours, and backbreaking work,” Brown said. “As a maintenance Airman you have to be able to be quick on your feet, absorb information, post haste, and as our expediter says, ‘Be like water.’”

To ‘be like water,’ is a famous analogy posed by Bruce Lee, a Chinese-American martial artist, actor and philosopher. While there are many interpretations of the phrase, according to Lee, water is formless, but it takes on the shape of whatever vessel it fills. Likewise, he said, people should adapt to different situations, allowing their minds to grow and change.

“As many have said before, being a maintainer is a thankless job,” Brown said. “It’s up to us to take a step back and realize where we are and how far we’ve come, not only in our careers but in life. Maintainers are the heart of the Air Force.”