• October 22, 2014

Three women lead push for integration in Thunder Squadron

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Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 12:00 pm

By Rose L. Thayer

Fort Hood Herald

The switch to Strkyers wasn't the only change 3rd Cavalry Regiment has undergone since returning from Iraq at the end of last summer.

The regiment also is a test unit for integrating women into combat positions. The three women leading the way in 3rd "Thunder" Squadron proved their strength by earning spurs alongside their male counterparts last week.

"They were pretty motivating," said Capt. Trish Kelly, commander of the squadron's 66th Military Intelligence Company, of the men. "These events are hush-hush, so you never know what exactly you're getting into. It was nerve-racking because you want to prepare."

It was Kelly's first spur ride, but she had the support of her company's 1st Sgt. Rebekah Lair and Capt. Marta Pena, Thunder Squadron chaplain and the spur holder who mentored the women throughout the four-day event. All three women are currently in roles in the squadron that have never officially been held by a female soldier.

"The Army has progressed a lot," said Lair, who was the only woman to compete in her first spur ride as a private first class. "Then, it was difficult because I had to prove myself. It didn't help that I was a private."

During the last 10 years of war, she said society has been able to see what women are capable of, making female soldiers in combat more accepted.

Pena said it was fun to encourage the two women as they completed each stage of the spur ride. It was far different than her previous two.

"This squadron is great in the way of supporting soldiers," she said. "It held true to be a positive event. ... As chaplain, I can really appreciate that."

The three agreed being female didn't change anything about the ride for anyone.

"You really only notice the gender difference when it comes time for hygiene or bathroom breaks," said Kelly. Her main goal, she said, was to finish the event.

"I told myself, 'I may not be the first through the door, but I have to get through to the finish.'"

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463.

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