Veteran's Reflections: Serving to Make a Difference
(November 15, 2010)
Betty Ann Patterson joined the Army in 1952, serving
in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Photo courtesy
of Betty Ann Patterson
||WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2010 – When
Betty Ann Patterson joined the Army in 1952, she
knew she wanted to do one thing: make a difference.
"Women were only a minuscule part of the military in
those days," she said. "I wanted to break new
ground, to go where few women had gone before and to
be a leader in an unexplored area."
Serving 22 years in the military, Patterson did just
Originally from Tacoma, Wash., she was commissioned
as a second lieutenant in the Women's Army Corps
shortly after her graduation from the State College
of Washington, now Washington State University.
After completing her basic military officers course
at Fort Lee, Va., in February 1953, she accepted a
regular Army commission as a second lieutenant, and
in 11200 she transferred to the Air Force as a
Patterson served during both the Korean and Vietnam
wars and spent one year in Vietnam from August 1967
to 1968, a period she called the most memorable time
of her service. She said one of the biggest lessons
she learned during her time in the
service was not to expect special privileges because
she was a woman.
"In my day, women had to work harder than men to achieve
success in the military service," she said. "We had to prove
ourselves worthy of our responsibilities."|
As an officer, she said, she learned to seize every
opportunity to lead as a woman during that time. "Never tell
your superiors you can't do something,” she added. "If they
think you're qualified, you are."
Patterson retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel
in 1974, and returned to Tacoma after many years of living
in La Jolla, Calif., and Arlington, Va.
After retiring, Patterson said, she sees Veterans Day as a
day of rest for her and her husband, who is retired from the
Navy. She added that in her younger days she would attend
military parades and sometimes would march, but that now she
spends her day reflecting.
"Veterans Day means celebrating the military strength of our
country so that we can remain free," she said. "It
recognizes the veterans who have contributed to our freedom,
many by making the ultimate sacrifice."
By Christen McCluney|
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
American Forces Press Service
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