During dinner the other night, a point about my military career jogged another memory of a series of events. I’ve explained before that my “inadvertent pioneer” status was largely an issue of timing although also my response to opportunities presented. The initial odd one was being trained in maintenance as I have also covered. When I arrived in Germany as the first ever female officer of the organization, the decision to place me in a captain’s position even though I was a junior 2d lieutenant was because there was still the reluctance to put me into position I was allegedly trained for. It so happens two other female officers were assigned within months of me and they did have to go into lieutenant positions because there was no way around it. So, in the position I held, there were times when I was at cross purposes with one of the captains; the one I would have by rights gone to work for. I tried to get along with everyone, but there were certain procedures which I had to enforce as is common in the military.
After a year, I was due to rotate positions as was also common, but it was fairly well-known the captain was basically waiting for me to be assigned to him as was appropriate considering the ordinary way things worked. At a minimum, he intended to make things difficult for me and could have quite frankly easily ruined my career. Unknown to me, the senior officers I worked with went to the decision maker and essentially said it would be unfair to place me in that position since I had demonstrated the ability to work above the rank I held. He agreed with the assessment of, “Yes, she makes mistakes, but never the same one twice.” (Hey, that’s a technique for learning.) I was subsequently provided the opportunity to command the Headquarters Detachment as a first lieutenant and also the first female to do so in the history of the unit. In other words, in the space of one year, I racked up three “firsts”.