Karen Fine Brasch "The entire air crew division did not want to fly with me."

Karen Fine Brasch, CDR,  USN (ret.) on inequality in the military: "Where do you think the change needs to happen most?"

Karen Fine Brasch on the far left, back row

Karen Fine Brasch on the far left, back row

"I would definitely say things are changing. It comes down to leadership; I saw it done right and I saw it done wrong. I was the first female pilot in my squadron aboard an aircraft carrier that has never deployed with women. I was young and doe eyed and I thought it was the greatest thing ever and the discrimination thing hadn’t really hit me yet, I was just so excited to be there. I showed up to my squadron and I actually heard the story a little while later, after the fact. The entire air crew division had gone to my commanding officer, Skipper, saying we are not going to fly with her. We’re not going to fly with a female pilot. I had never met them. They had never flown with me, but they were adamant, it was like a mutiny. Skipper turned around and said “she is now your division officer.” And I’ll tell you what, out of all the guys, I am still closest to those guys today. Of course they tell me that story 6 months into deployment. But they had my back the entire time. They were amazing. Like I said, I saw it done right and wrong. When it was right, it was always about leadership."

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Karen Fine Brasch is a retired United States Navy Commander and rotary and fixed wing pilot. She completed two tours/deployments to the Middle East war region aboard the USS Nimitz as a helicopter aircraft commander. She was the first female pilot in her Search and Rescue/ Anti-Submarine Warfare squadron, as well as among the first co-ed crew aboard the USS Nimitz (the second battle group ever to deploy with women). She instructed students with the United States Marines training in the UH-1N Huey flight program and led her Navy reserve unit as Executive Officer.