It is time to take a moment to appreciate all who serve and have served our nation. In the TomboyX spirit, we want to highlight some of the badass women who are sometimes overlooked for their sacrifice and service. Today we honor Air Force Veteran Julie Thompson. We were introduced to Julie as part of our call for models for our Women in Uniform shoot.
What drew you to join the Air Force?
I grew up around military family, especially my uncle who was retired from the Air Force. And… I didn’t want to go to college. I told my dad, “I’m just going to party your money away in college.” So join I did. My uncle told me he could put me anywhere, so I chose to be stationed in Germany at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden. It lasted for two years. In Germany I was a personnel specialist, ensuring the correct paperwork for a unit of about 1500. We were the First Combat Communications Group. We were an embedded unit within the Army, assisting in communication. While part of this unit, I had the opportunity to do two weeks of combat training and war games. I got an M16 as part of this training and everything.
Did you serve elsewhere?
After Germany, I went to Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, NC. I was part of 68th Air Refueling Group as a Personnel Specialist. Our unit deployed to KC-10 Extenders which actually refueled jets in mid air. I was deployed twice during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. We went to Azores, Portugal and then to Jeddah Saudi Arabia where my unit was working at the Prince Abdullah’s base with the Saudi Arabian Royal Air Force. I received a bomb pin. Gotta drink a beer out of your boot before you take off.
How did you end having a long-term career connected to the military?
I went on to serve with the National Coast Guard. I signed up for three years as a Civil Engineering Heavy Equipment Operator. This got me into the mechanical side. Now, 21 years later, I have spent 16 years of it as a federal contractor for the Navy. I am currently Ship Superintendent with SPAWAR for the Department of Defense in Bremerton, WA. I oversee the federal contractors as a project manager for Critical US Navy Electronic Communications and Computer Installation Onboard Submarine that are essential for our war fighters (that’s a mouthful!). In a nutshell, we are responsible to make sure that submarines have the technology they need when they are out at sea.
What has been your experience as a woman in the military?
Well, I now work for SPAWAR. There are only two women project managers in the company, and I am the only one in Washington State. Being a woman there are challenges. My experience has been that there’s usually just one or two men that don’t want to listen because you are a woman. But for the most part, they have been really good to me. When you are a strong person and you know what you’re doing, you get respect no matter what. It got to the point in my career where I taught men their job and in turn got respect.
Julie, in uniform
What was it like serving under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?
It was pretty hard. I had friends who were kicked out. There were a lot of witch hunts. The hardest part was seeing men who should have been honored for outstanding service instead be kicked out. In fact, when I first joined, you had to sign a document stating you were not a homosexual. I didn’t want to lie, but I also wanted to serve. It was tough signing on that dotted line. But, we have come a long way and it is good to see.
What was your proudest moment?
My time in Saudia Arabia. This is the base where I was personally selected to help the Royal Air Force throw our entire unit a thank you dinner party from Prince Abdullah, for 1500 people. I was also very proud when I received the award for Personnel Manager of the Year.
Who’s your favorite Tomboy?
My older late sister Kathy and singer Pink.
They fall in the same category for me. They prove you don’t need to be gay to be a badass tomboy. My sister, she was in construction and a strong women. Hot as hell. And with Pink, need I say more?
Julie, rocking a pair of Good Carmas
Favorite TomboyX gear?
I love all your shoes and the messenger bags.