HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (10/1/2012) -- In 1920, they were
allowed to vote. In 1948, they were allowed to serve. And
now, a select few female service members are finally getting
the opportunity to enable special operations forces in
Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, Air Force Special Operations Command commander, pins a Bronze Star on Staff Sgt. Jamie Fremgen, 11th Intelligence Squadron analyst, Sept. 24,
2012 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Fremgen was the first enlisted Airman to deploy as a Cultural Support Team leader. Her mission was to engage Afghanistan's female and adolescent population when interaction with male service members could be deemed culturally inappropriate. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Williams
Political as it may be, Staff Sgt. Jamie
Fremgen, 11th Intelligence Squadron analyst, proved it's not
only possible, but necessary.
"On my first
deployment to Afghanistan, I saw the girls on the Cultural
Support Team in action, and I immediately wanted to be a
part of it," she said. "For the last five years I wanted to
do something more. Contribute more. I wanted to make a
significant difference ... I knew being involved in this
program would give me that rare opportunity."
there was a small problem. The program was for female Army
With her mind set on her newest goal,
that small detail didn't stop this Airman.
said she ignored any comment involving "no" or "you can't do
that" and applied for the program anyway. A few
months later, she was accepted and went on to becoming the
first enlisted Airman to deploy as a Cultural Support Team
Fremgen's duties were vast and dynamic to
success in Afghanistan. Her mission was to engage a nation's
female and adolescent population when interaction with male
service members could be deemed culturally inappropriate.
"Although my main job was to interact with the local
females and children, I also protected them during hostile
situations," Fremgen said. "And, hostile situations were
common, especially during my first few months in country."
But Fremgen's mission wasn't just about being
culturally sensitive, it was about results. Results were
exactly what she got.
"On my first mission, I kept
thinking to myself, 'Man, I really hope I don't let these
guys down,'" she said. "But, I surprised myself (by enabling
the mission) that day. Not only did that give me the
confidence I needed, it made me want to go back. I felt like
I helped. I felt like part of the team. I was officially
That first mission set the tone for the rest
of her deployment.
In just six months, Fremgen
enabled 32 direct action missions. She provided operational
support to 98 females and 156 children.
efforts, she was awarded the Bronze Star Sept. 24 at
Hurlburt Field, Fla., and was nominated for the Combat
Those who know Fremgen weren't
surprised. At her current position as an intelligence
analyst, Fremgen has been a hard worker from the get go.
"Jamie is the most gung ho person I know," said her
former commander, Col. Michael Stevenson, 361st
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group. "Most
Airmen who want to cross-train put in a package and go
through the official process. Not Jamie. Without any
technical school, formal training or outside help, she
trained herself to be a full-motion video analyst. Now,
she's one of the best."
Fremgen's current commander,
Lt. Col. Brian Collord, 11th IS, agreed.
"She is a
true inspiration and role model not only for the
intelligence community, but for female Airmen everywhere,"
he said. "I couldn't be more proud and grateful for her
service to the 11th IS, AFSOC and the SOF community, and our
nation. I am truly honored to have served with her."
Her mother, Patricia Walters, said her daughter has always
been a strong-willed person who stood up and fought for what
she believed in.
"She has always been protective,"
Walters said. "When she was just 4-years-old, she wanted to
stand up to a fifth-grader who was bullying her older sister
on the bus. She was a tough little girl, and still is.
Seeing her receive the Bronze Star is one of my proudest
moments as her mom."
Fremgen said she couldn't have
done it alone.
"I was surrounded by countless
heroes," she said. "It was such an honor to have been given
the opportunity to work alongside them and be accepted as
part of their team. They had given up so much of their lives
and were extremely professional in helping me succeed."
After almost 11 years of service, Fremgen said she is
separating from the Air Force soon.
"I'll still be a
reservist, but I plan to use the extra time to further my
education," she said. "However, all my friends seem to think
that won't last long. My heart is with the mission and
everyone knows it."
By USAF Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost
Air Force Special
Operations Command Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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