By VP-4 Public Affairs
An all-female crew from Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 paid homage to women’s heritage by conducting an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) mission in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. March 20, 2020.
VP-4 continues to fly regular missions throughout 6th Fleet in support of maritime security.
“Today’s flight crew represents the many contributions women have made in the Navy,” said Naval Aircrewman (Operator) 2nd Class Meghan Cooke. “My grandmother was in the Navy WAVES program during World War II, and I am proud to represent modern women in the military.”
In 1942 Congress enacted the Women’s Reserve, better known as WAVES ( Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), to expedite the war effort by replacing men serving on shore duty, releasing them for duty at sea. Upwards of 30 percent of the WAVES worked in naval aviation as parachute testers, air traffic controllers, and training pilots.
Over the past, 78 years the Navy has significantly changed its policy toward women in aviation. In 1973, the Navy ended the restriction that prevented women from serving in training and non-combat related aviation. In 1994, the barrier preventing women from serving aboard warships and flying combat missions was lifted.
“I am thankful to have been raised in a country where I don’t notice if I am the only female in the room or on a flight,” said Lt. Jennifer Hogan, a naval flight officer and the operation mission commander. “It’s amazing to lead a female crew knowing, as a country, how far we have come.”
The ISR mission took the crew over the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The operation allowed the crew to increase situational awareness of the maritime domain and put their training in the P-8A ISR mission set to use in real time.
“It is an honor to fly among these remarkable, capable women who challenge, support, and train each other to achieve new heights,” said Lt. Jillian Lewis, a pilot assigned to VP-4.
VP-4 is forward deployed to Signonella, Italy to support regional security and demonstrate commitment to allies and partners throughout Europe and Africa.
“Planning out such a flight might have been more challenging in the past, but VP-4 has various, fully qualified women to fill each one of the nine crew positions,” said Cmdr. Wayne Lewis, commanding officer of VP-4. “This flight was planned to honor the past and inspire the future.”
In Dec. 2015, all combat roles in the military were opened to women, ensuring that the military is able to recruit, train, and retain the nation’s most capable talent.
“We carry the torch for the women who came before us,” said Naval Aircrewman (Operator) 3rd Class Micha Deason. “Women today continue to push boundaries and achieve greatness. I am honored to take part in the new generation of women in the military.”
These women are able to inspire people in their lives, even influencing their decisions to serve.
“As the youngest of five girls, I watched each of my sisters choose military service,” said Lt.j.g. Taryn Puro. “It was always inspiring to me how they optimized the opportunities the military has to offer. In the future, I hope to be able to inspire others as my sisters have inspired me.”