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Command Sergeant Major Praises Women's Service

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 12, 2005 – Women -- daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, wives, friends and even grandmothers -- are serving in every state, U.S. territory and in more than 100 countries worldwide, the Army Reserve's first woman command sergeant major told the audience at a special Veterans Day observance at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Nov.11.

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Command Sgt. Maj. Michele S. Jones, the first woman command sergeant major of the Army Reserve, praised women's service in the armed forces during a Veterans Day observance of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Nov. 11. Photo by Rudi Williams
  

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However, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michele S. Jones paid particular tribute to those currently serving in Southwest Asia.

"I would like to take a moment to highlight women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait," she said. "As I travel through the theater, I see them leading and participating in the full spectrum of military operations. They're commanding units, conducting convoy missions, delivering supplies, leading civil affairs missions, performing life-saving surgeries, gathering intelligence, organizing air operations, directing vehicle maintenance, piloting aircraft to postal management and delivery."

Jones said each woman serving today carries on the legacy given to them by women veterans that she described as the "four Ls." That includes loyalty, leadership, liberty and life, she said.

Loyalty means putting the nation's needs before their own, Jones said. Leadership involves leading what she called the nation's greatest asset, its servicemembers, as they bring liberty to others and ensure that the American way of life is never compromised.

"As leaders, we have a responsibility to take care of soldiers," the command sergeant major said. "We have responsibility to protect their interest as well as the interest of the nation. We're charged to use our rank and position to ensure that our systems operate within the parameter of regulations, policies, directives and the law."

Women in uniform are ambassadors, whether officially or unofficially and whether or not they recognize it, Jones said. "We directly or indirectly influence how women are viewed with the military, the private sector, the media and around the world," she said.

Pointing out that nearly 2 million women have served in the armed forces, Jones emphasized that every woman who has worn a military uniform volunteered. "The military has always been voluntary for women," she noted. "Words can't express my depth of gratitude for the women that have served before me."

Jones spoke to an overflow crowd in the memorial's theater, including representatives of the Blue Stars Mother and Gold Star Wives.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen Wilma L. Vaught, Women's Memorial Foundation president, welcomed the audience to the Veterans Day observance.

Military District of Washington's Joint Service Color Guard presented the colors and Chief Master Sgt. Paul Eschlilman of the Air Force Band sang the national anthem. Army Reserve Capt. Rose Lopez-Keravuori, the first military women to be selected as Mrs. Virginia-American, said the pledge of alliance and Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Christine Blice-Baum offered the invocation and benediction.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Band Chief Master Sgt. Paul Esehliman sings the national anthem during a Veterans Day observance of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Nov. 11. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Reserve Capt. Rose Lopez-Keravuori recites the pledge of allegiance during a Veterans Day observance at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Nov. 11. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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