Women in history: Contributions of an Eielson contract specialist

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Janine Thibault
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: Women in History is a four-part series portraying women currently stationed at Eielson that have positively made an impact.

Air Force duty for women was authorized on July 8, 1948. Today, of the more than 328,000 active duty members serving in the Air Force, nearly 19% are women.

Airman 1st Class Jacqueline Bongard, 354th Contracting Squadron contract specialist, is one of those women, working to make her own mark in Air Force history.

Earning the 2011 Airman of the Year award, she remains active in the community and continues working toward accomplishing her goals.

"Here [on Eielson] I meet new people and things are so different," said Bongard, a Zimmerman, Minn., native. "I love what I do."

Bongard is an active member of Airmen Committed to Excellence and has placed special emphasis on trying to get Airmen's voices heard. She has also been involved with the Airman's Attic, [Armed Services YMCA], has given snowboard lessons, helped the Spouses' Club and any organization that needs help, whether it's through ACE or lending a hand to someone who needs it.

She wakes up every morning and is excited about going to work to do her job.
"I always wanted to join the Air Force," she said. "I see so much more than I ever did living in Minnesota."

Even before being recognized as the Airman of the Year, Bongard was active in the base and local community. Why does she do it? Put simply, Bongard likes people. She gets involved because she is asked and if others get interested in community events based on participation, then it is a bonus.

"When I was first put up for Airman of the Year, I wanted to win, although I didn't think I would," said Bongard. "It's not anything I would have expected last year."

As an award winner, Bongard recently had the opportunity to visit 11th Air Force, giving her some exposure to how things operate at a higher Air Force level.

"This has given me the chance to see more operational Air Force and see what goes on," she said, adding she also learned more about other Airmen and first-hand insight into their jobs.

During the visit, Bongard read a feature on Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, who was recently nominated to become the Air Force's first female General.

"She works in weapons acquisitions, working on jet projects and I thought that was cool, so I came back and asked my supervisor, 'How do I get there?'" said Bongard.

Bongard wanted to be the first female Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, but after meeting Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A Schwartz, she has her sights set on being the first female Chief of Staff. Right now, she is working on completing her college degree.

"All the stuff I do makes me happy," said Bongard. "I don't let anybody tell me I can't do something. If I want to go out and run a marathon there's no reason you can tell me I can't. If I want to be the first female Chief Master Sergeant [of the Air Force], no one can tell me I can't try."

For Airman Bongard, it is not only the end goal of gaining the rank, title or prestige. She loves the Air Force and her job, and her hard work pays off every day.