Meet our friend Katie. She met Anthony in graduate school where she studied music and played the flute at UCSB. Now she is Second Lieutenant in the Air Force working as the Fuels Management Flight Commander and living in Japan.
…talk about a Miss Mélange, am I right??
Okay I’ll stop.
Anyway I met her a while back during one of her rare visits to Santa Barbara, and I was just mesmerized by her stories! She’s one of those people that makes you think, “Wow- apparently I could have accomplished a LOT more by now.” But she is the sweetest person and so relatable, so it makes you feel like you could do it, too! (If I wasn’t so terrified.)
I asked her a few questions to pick her brain, and thought you guys might be fascinated by her life like I am. Here she is, the “Flutenant” as Anthony calls her, to tell us all about her fabulous life!
What made you want to go into the military?
Patriotism, mostly. I grew up in an Air Force family, but it wasn’t until I was finishing grad school that I took a step back to look at my life and reconsidered what I really wanted to do with it. I was at a point that I wanted something that would bring more purpose to my life, something that would challenge me to be a stronger woman, to be a part of something great. One of the final lines of our Airman’s Creed is, “I defend my country with my life,” and my heart is overwhelmed with pride every time I say it. I’m so proud to get to wear the uniform every day and to serve our great country.
What is your favorite and least favorite part about your job?
My 57 favorite parts of my job are the 57 airmen in my flight. It is such a humbling opportunity to get to lead so many fine men and women who have dedicated their lives to service. I have airmen from all walks of life and all parts of the world, and my primary responsibility is to make sure they and their families are taken care of. As we all volunteered to work in this sometimes-dangerous career field, the hardest part of my job is seeing families torn apart and finding a way to help through the tough times. It is a 24/7/365 job, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What is the most difficult thing about being a female soldier?
It’s a man’s world! Haha, jokes aside, I do obviously work in a male-dominated career field. We train our airmen to be the utmost of professionals, and because of that, I have not experienced any setbacks or discrimination because of my gender. I’ve learned that true leadership in the military isn’t about how big your muscles are or how much training you’ve had or where you went to school–it’s about how hard you try and how much you care about your job and your people.
What is the best and worst thing about living in Japan?
The only bad thing is how remote this base is! In order to get to Misawa, you have to take a series of airplanes, buses, and/or trains that can often add up to a 24-hour trip. But once you get here, there are so many opportunities to explore. The Japanese people are so kind and polite, and their culture is so rich. I live off-base on a beautiful local farm, and I love to get out and go hiking, fruit-picking, mountain climbing, or just enjoy a lazy day at the oceanfront. We get more snow than any other base in the world (nearly 200 inches in 2014!), so we also have some of the best ski and snowboard resorts in the world.
How would you describe your style?
Olive drab, most days! Seriously though, wearing the camouflaged Airman Battle Uniform is one of my favorite parts of the job. Not only do I save a ton of time deciding what to wear and how to fix my hair every morning, but I’m so proud to get to represent the United States Air Force every day by wearing their name on my chest. Our regs are fairly strict about hair styles and piercings/jewelry, so outside of work, it’s nice to let my long hair down and wear colorful things! My favorite type of shopping is dress shopping–I could live in sundresses and skirts all summer long. Besides that, comfy-and-cute workout clothes are a staple…my wallet is grateful that the nearest Lulu Lemon is an ocean away.
What would you tell your 20 year old self if you could?
Wow, this question makes me feel old. So much has changed for me in five years, and I attribute it to the love I’ve surrounded myself with and the time I spent discovering the world and discovering myself. I’d probably tell myself to try to worry less about things out of your control. Spend more time with the people who care and less time with the people who don’t. Accept that failures are much better teachers than successes. Keep your standards high, but don’t judge others who hold different values. Work on building that thick skin, because you’re going to need it. Eat more vegetables. And most of all, always love yourself, always love your life—it’s the only one you’re going to get.
Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into your insanely interesting life, Katie!