Real-life Wonder Women of the 185th

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jeremy J. McClure
  • 185th ARW Public Affairs

Wonder Woman is the biggest movie in America so far this summer. A story of a woman with amazing powers that rushes into battle saving the day. The action of the movie leaves audience members in awe and wishing Wonder Woman was real. Perhaps, she is.

One does not have to look hard around the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City, Iowa to find real life Wonder Women.

During a recent open house at the base during June, over 7,300 people enjoyed the day on the flight line looking at aircraft and equipment under the watchful gaze of Security Forces’ Staff Sgt. Trisha Ross. Clad in body armor and gripping a M4 rifle, Ross very easily could pass for Wonder Woman herself.  

“The M4 is my favorite weapon to shoot because I shoot it the best,” said Ross who joined because military service sounded like a challenge and something different. She also discussed her enjoyment of firing the M2 .50 caliber machine gun which she recently qualified on during training. “I like shooting the different weapons and the challenge of Security Forces.”

Even with the security provided by Ross, the unit’s mission would come to a halt if not for the work of Airmen like Staff Sergeant Jessica Bowen.

In grease covered shirts and pants, Bowen goes through every inch of the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 185th as part of her duties in Isochronal Inspection.

“I wanted to touch and work on airplanes,” said Bowen of her decision to become an aircraft maintainer. Bowen has also deployed with the unit and is preparing for another deployment. “I loved being deployed. Aircraft would land, we would refuel them and make repairs on the spot.”

Bowen’s long hours and strenuous work is appreciated by Staff Sgt. Melissa Wulf, an in-flight refueling specialist or ‘boomer’ for short.

Wulf flies in the Unit’s KC-135s all over the world and has refueled every plane in the U.S. inventory and many of our allies. The hardest part of the training to be a boomer, according to Wulf, was resistance training during survival school.

“It was hard but it was also my favorite part,” said Wulf of the training. The training puts Air Crew members in a simulated situation in which they have crashed in enemy territory and have to survive hostile environments with limited resources. During the training, students are captured and become prisoners. To pass, they must learn how to resist their captors. 

“All the resistance tactics come from what prisoners (of war) have gone through and what helped them survive,” Wulf explained. “It makes you proud to be an American and gives you an appreciation of what they (POWs) have gone through.”

In the movie, Wonder Woman is inspired by a strong general. Like the fictional hereon, the real-life Wonder Women were inspired by others as well.

Ross stated that a Master Sgt. that is also a woman in Security Forces inspired her. Bowen stated that another female Airmen who work on hydraulics inspires her. Wulf said one of her high school teachers who also is a boomer is who she draws inspiration from.

These Wonder Women demonstrate leadership and strength everyday while performing their duties. But what advice do they have for others?

“Stand your ground, remember where you came from, and be smart and strong and you can do anything,” said Ross.

“Don’t think that what you want is the right thing for you. Be ready for change and work hard,” said Bowen.

“You have the capacity to do so much,” added Wulf. “Joining the military can give you more of a sense of who you are and you will find that you can do more than you thought you ever could do.”

If you are interested in learning more about career opportunities with the 185th Air Refueling Wing, call 800-952-4860.

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