Very few things happen by chance and often times, history repeats
The June 1997 issue of Recruiter Magazine contained
an article entitled “Making History,” written about Terry Cooper.
She was a senior master sergeant who was the first-female squadron
superintendent of the 336th Recruiting Squadron.
years have passed and there has only been one other female to hold
“When I learned I was only the second female
to have this position the feeling was unexplainable,” said Senior
Master Sgt. Josephine Davis-Fogle, 336th RCS production
superintendent. “Being in a position like this gives me the
opportunity to influence and inspire any and every one, but being a
woman in this position speaks volumes.”
Before she made
history, Cooper enlisted in the Air Force as a dental technician in
1978, after 10 years she’d done all the jobs in that field and felt
it had lost its challenge. So she became a recruiter, conquering
challenges in that career field for 11 years.
In 1997, she
told Recruiter Magazine, “In the beginning it was scary, because I
felt like I was living in a glass house and all eyes were on me.”
In the article, Cooper added that she felt like she needed to
set a precedent for every other female that comes behind her and
that if she didn’t do a good job, then all female superintendents
will get a bad ‘rap’.
Cooper has since retired, but while
reflecting on her 21-year career 20 years later, Cooper thought
other females were looking to see how she handled it and if she
could be successful at it.
“It wasn’t that there weren’t
other females that had the rank to take the position,” observed
Cooper. “I think some of the senior female recruiters were a little
hesitant to go out into the field and recruit because it was a man’s
world at that time.”
Not only did Cooper succeed, but the
squadron she led excelled as well. When Cooper began working as the
production superintendent the 336th RCS was ranked No. 17 in the
nation, when she left they had risen to No. 1.
marveled at being the only other female to follow in her footsteps
and after reading the article about her, found out Cooper was still
in the local area and contacted her so they could meet.
“When I saw that article, something just clicked inside of me and I
just felt there was going to be some kind of connection,”
Davis-Fogle added. “I just wanted to reach out to her to see how she
handled it. Things were tougher for her of course than they are for
me because she actually paved the way.
“She not only made
history in the Air Force Recruiting Service as being the
first-female superintendent, but she also happened to have this
squadron, which made it that much more interesting,” Davis Fogle
The interesting connections don’t stop there. They
both grew up in the same area of South Carolina and enlisted in the
Air Force with jobs as dental technicians and both happened to be
Davis-Fogle commented that she’s always been
intrigued about Air Force leadership and wanted to know who’s in
charge. She added it’s not often she sees female faces in leadership
“It’s interesting knowing I’m only the second
female to be a production superintendent in this squadron after 20
years,” Davis-Fogle added. “I think it goes back to diversity. Are
we being diverse as we go out and recruit and make things happen?”
With these thoughts in mind, Davis-Fogle reached out to Cooper
and invited her to visit the squadron and talk about the challenges
she faced when she was production superintendent.
came to visit, I asked her what it had been like for her and if she
had any advice for me,” said Davis-Fogle. “She said she had to work
extra hard and kept proving herself over and over. She told me to
stick to my guns and do what I feel is right. Meeting her was
awesome, not many people can say they’ve met someone that paved the
way for them. Getting to personally thank her was powerful.”
While offering words of wisdom, Cooper was astounded by how much
they had in common and how easy it was to open up to one another.
“It was as if we had known each other all of our lives,” said
Cooper. “We spoke about having South Carolina in common and about
how our paths in the Air Force are very similar. There’s so much I
like about her and so much I see in her that I know was part of me
when I was coming up through the ranks.”
As Cooper moved
through the ranks, she worked hard and subsequently left behind a
rich heritage. One that would rest for 20 years until Davis-Fogle
would take the reins and continue the journey.
“She laid the
foundation for me, I felt she was a legacy and I just had to meet
her and let her know that her legacy lives on,” said Davis-Fogle.
“If in 20 years the recruiters and people here talk about me, I want
them to say that I was a special kind of production superintendent
that really cared about her people. I want that to be my legacy.”
Often times, hard work and dedication are the driving forces
that determine one’s path in life, but when the paths of strangers
are eerily similar, it can make people question the odds.
However uncanny the similarities between Davis-Fogle and Cooper’s
stories may seem, the inspiration Davis-Fogle hopes to evoke in
women from all walks of life, is undeniable.
position was a great feeling but when I researched and found out I
was only the second, I had to tell the story,” said Davis-Fogle.
“This story is powerful, having it told is powerful and I hope it
inspires other women to believe they can do this too.”
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Janiqua Robinson
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