1st Class Angelica Range
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- As a representation of the small few in a career dominated by men, the women working in munitions maintenance ensure they bring their “A-game” when it’s time to handle, store, transport, arm and disarm munition systems to ensure the safety of our Airmen and the success of our missions.
With a high level of attention to detail and extreme care, these Airmen take part in the great responsibility of assembling and processing the most advanced munitions in the world.
“It’s one of those things where it’s kind of rewarding because you are in a job where you stand out more,” said Airman 1st Class Haley Johnson, conventional maintenance crew chief assigned to the 8th Maintenance Squadron. “You get to choose whether it’s in a good way or bad.”
Being the only female in the midst of 10 to 15 males at any time has been the norm for Johnson since joining the military, even during technical school. Always aiming to give her best and learn as much as she could at her job, she simply stood out like a sore thumb for some time.
“I really latched onto this female Tech. Sgt. when I got to my first base, because initially, I was the only female for a while,” said Johnson. “She taught me that, I could do and learn just as much as anyone—if not more, and that’s what stuck with me ever since.”
Ammo works together in essentially everything, but due to the presence of only a sprinkle of women across the career field the ladies look out for and mentor each other.
“Johnson stepped in without hesitation when I first arrived to Kunsan,” said Airman 1st Class Angelica Range. “This being my first base, I definitely needed a little guidance on how to navigate in my new job and she did that without question.”
Building munitions is a huge part of ammo, however, they have their hands in many other parts of the munitions system.
Staff Sgt. Ilene Clemens, precision guided missile crew chief, previously worked in various phases of the bomb making process—the production side of the house to be exact. The production flight consists of: conventional maintenance, storage, trailer maintenance, line delivery, and precision guided missiles.
Clemens recollects her similar memories to what Johnson experienced.
“I could only remember working with a total of three females at one time, throughout my four years of being in the Air Force,” said Clemens. “It’s scary for some, but not out of the ordinary for me.”
Although only a small number of women make up the career field filled with men, Clemens says that doesn’t change a thing.
“This is something that I most definitely would have chosen even if I’d known how it would turn out still,” said Clemens. “You can’t trade the experiences— the challenges, adversities, the fire! It turns you into a certain type of person and that’s who I wanted to be.”
According to Clemens and the rest of the ladies of Ammo, it’s not about their gender, but how well they do their job when it comes to their love for career field.