Kathleen Peppers is an Air Force veteran with a sense of duty, purpose, and humor. In honor of Veterans Day, she shared her experiences from her time in the Air Force—which range from working with electromagnetic induction to driving nine naked women around Florida.
How long were you in the Air Force? Why did you join? Why the Air Force?
I was on Active Duty for five and a half years and continued to serve in international guard and reserves for next 20 years until retirement.
I joined because I wanted to get an education. I came from a poor family and serving in the Air Force was an avenue that looked promising to expand my education and do something with my career. I felt that the Air Force was more intellectually geared at the time and that their routine careers were more in parallel with what one might do in a civilian capacity.
What was your job?
I was in for so long. I started out working on aircrafts performing non-destructive testing. It’s very much like being a doctor. I utilized electromagnetic induction to look at the integrity of an aircraft without breaking it. It’s like when you think your ankle is broken so you go to the doctor. Instead of opening up your leg, they use an X-Ray to see what the problem is. When I retried I was a First Sergeant.
I understand you were on a softball team. Any stories to share from those days?
Back in those days you couldn’t be an out lesbian, but I was the captain of a softball team. We traveled down to Pensacola, FL for an inter-service tournament—and won! To celebrate, we went skinny dipping in the Gulf. Unfortunately, the tide came in. We lost our uniforms and had to drive back to base. I was driving around Florida with nine naked women in my car. When we got back to base I had to ask security to bring us blankets so we could walk to our rooms. The male guard on duty sent a young woman to get us incredibly itchy blankets to wrap ourselves in as we walked across the base.
What did you go on to do as a career after the war? How did being a service member help you in that career?
After I left the Air Force, I continued to maintain an expertise in non-destructive testing. I began working in the nuclear power industry performing inspections of the tubing in the generator and steam machines. I also developed curricula for certification programs in current nuclear testing programs used in the United States and around the world.
I came out of the Air Force with a technical background that was unmatched by routine civilian knowledge. Being a service member definitely gave me a leg up in the technical field.
Do you have anything else you want people to know about being in the armed forces on this Veterans’ Day?
We should all—men and women—serve in some capacity to help strengthen our moral compass. Serving gives people a baseline of what is good behavior.
This Veterans Day, we are offering 20% off storewide. Happy Veterans Day, and THANK YOU to all who have served.
Tell us about a veteran who is important to you in the comments.