Women making history at Joint Base Charleston

Charleston County News

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Brugge)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Two U.S. Air Force (USAF) Reservists are breaking barriers by becoming the first women at Joint Base Charleston (JBC) to hold two significant security force positions.

Senior Airman Sydney Lewandowski and Senior Airman Destiny Cooper are both Reservists in the 315th Airlift Wing, serving with the 315th Security Forces Squadron.

Lewandowski became the first female security forces Phoenix Raven after graduating from her training course in March. She is also a student at the College of Charleston and works a part-time job.

Lewandowski says that being number one is a huge motivator for her:

“One of my main drives for becoming a Phoenix Raven was being the first female from our base to accomplish it.”

Senior Airman Sydney Lewandowski

The Phoenix Raven program was created in 1997 to establish “teams of specially trained security forces personnel dedicated to providing security for Air Mobility Command aircraft transiting high terrorist and criminal threat areas,” according to JBC.

The male-dominated position is physically demanding, which Lewandowski said that she expected, but she was surprised that the training challenged her “much more mentally than [she] was prepared for.”

She said that people are still surprised by her achievement. “Most people don’t know what to say when they find out that I’m a female in security forces,” Lewandowski said. She continued, saying “they really don’t know what to say when they find out that I am a Raven and what the Ravens do.”

Cooper is the first female combat arms instructor in the Wing. She too is a college student, and hopes to become an officer in the future.

Although she may not look the part, Cooper says that hard work is they key to reaching her goals:

“When they see a small-statured woman, they automatically disqualify me for that type of position… So I put out max effort and graduated as a distinguished graduate.”

Senior Airman Destiny Cooper

Cooper’s hard work paid off — not just for her, but for others following in her footsteps. Another woman is joining the combat arms team, and Cooper was her inspiration.

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