3/19/2014 – SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. —
Marcia Montoya knew she wanted to follow in her relative’s footsteps and become part of the third generation of her family to join the military.
When Montoya sat down with her U.S. Air Force recruiter, he informed her of all the jobs she qualified for and what each one entailed. When he described security forces he was surprised when she said “Sign me up!”
Three years later, now Senior Airman Montoya, 4th Security Forces Squadron defender, was tasked to join the first Air Force Security Forces Female Engagement Team in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
The FET is an all-female patrol team that travels into villages in Afghanistan and develops trust-based and enduring relationships with the Afghan women they encounter on their patrols.
“The women in these villages don’t have health care the way we do as Americans,” said Montoya. “I sat with these women and educated them on practicing healthy hygiene habits.”
Montoya said even though their mission was to deliver care packages of winter clothing and talk to the women in the villages, she feels they helped her more then she helped them.
Being deployed to Afghanistan, according to Montoya, opened her eyes to becoming a more culturally aware and adaptable Airman.
“I think the women in the villages taught me better ways to communicate and to be more aware of myself,” said Montoya.
During her assignment with the FET, Montoya was not only responsible for community relations, but was also tasked with patrolling the local area. The duty called for her to operate heavy weaponry from atop armored vehicles during sweeps for improvised explosive devices and other enemy threats.
Montoya also had the opportunity to teach her peers how to properly mount the .50-caliber machine gun onto the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station system that she was assigned. CROWS is a remote-control weapon system that provides the operator the ability to acquire and engage targets while inside a vehicle. This is a mandatory course needed to understand how to attach the .50-caliber machine gun to the CROWS system.
“Teaching the CROWS course was not only difficult and fun, but also empowering,” said Montoya. “It was empowering because I could take apart and put the weapon together faster than everyone in the class.”
Montoya takes solace in knowing her fellow squadron members and family are proud of her accomplishments.
“She is a hardworking, motivated and dedicated defender,” added Montoya’s supervisor, Staff Sgt. Carolyn A. Lewis, 4th SFS defender. “She strives to be the best and lead others to do the same.”
Lewis further explained Airmen look up to Montoya as she possesses the attributes that make her stand out above all others.
“Montoya works hard to make sure other Airmen are taken care of and pushes herself to the level of a noncommissioned officer,” said Lewis. “She makes me proud to serve as a female in the United States Air Force and she is truly one of the best.”
Of all her accomplishments in her six years in the Air Force, Montoya said one of her proudest moments came when she recently went home on leave.
Montoya, her grandfather and uncle were all photographed in their uniforms.
She said she felt a sense of pride seeing her family name tapes all lined up.
“I’m very proud that she’s in the Air Force and serving our country,” said Theodore Montoya, Marcia’s grandfather and retired U.S Army Staff Sgt., who served during the Vietnam War.
Montoya has reenlisted and plans on serving a full 20 years in the Air Force in her current career field as a security forces defender.
Editor’s Note: This feature is part of a series recognizing and celebrating females in the 4th Fighter Wing during Women’s History Month.
by Airman 1st Class Shawna L. Keyes
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs