March is celebrated as National Women’s History Month in thousands of communities and military bases throughout the world. This celebration, designated by Joint Resolutions of the House and Senate and Proclamations by six American presidents, is an opportunity to honor and celebrate women’s historic achievements.
Women have been “in” the military as far back as the Revolutionary War where they served on the battlefield as nurses, water bearers, cooks, and laundresses. In 1950, fewer than five years after World War II ended, the United States found itself once again confronted by a war for which it was unprepared. As before, they turned to American women to meet personnel needs, asking them to leave their homes, jobs and families to serve their country. Today, according to the US Department of Defense, there are approximately 204,973 women in the military. The recent groundbreaking decision to lift the ban on women in direct combat ground roles may be the push needed to finally ensure a move toward equality of the sexes.
Meet CW4 (Ret) Stormy McLemore Ripley! Stormy was born at Fort Rucker, Al into a military family (her father is Retired Col Mel McLemore,). She grew up all over the world as an “Army Brat!” Following in her father’s footsteps, she joined the Army in March 1986.
Her first duty station was Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, where she worked Law Enforcement and Border Patrol. She then went to Panama and was there during Operation Just Cause, where she earned her first combat patch. Also while in Panama, she completed the Panama Infantry Iron-Man event, Air-Assault and Airborne School and Leadership Reaction Courses (LRCs)
In 1991 she applied for both Drill Sergeant School and Flight School at the same time. She was picked for flight school and graduated as a Warrant Officer (W01) in 1992 and completed Flight School in 1993. Stormy flew UH-1 Huey’s prior to transitioning to UH-60 Blackhawks.
The Army took Stormy all over the world during her 27 year career. She had many assignments to include locations such as Camp Humphreys, Korea, and Iraq, where she was deployed for 15 months working Personnel Recovery locating missing service members and civilian contractors. She went to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to work with the US Embassy, once again locating and recovering remains of American citizens. She also had assignments in Egypt and all over the United States. She has 25 parachute jumps with the 82nd Airborne Division, 82nd Aviation Brigade.
It wasn’t all work and no play. In 1993 she married Jim Ripley SFC (Ret) 7th Special Forces Group. “Officers need a good NCO,” she said. They have a son, Shane, who was born in 2000.
These are but some of the amazing accomplishments of CW4 Stormy Ripley, who retired in April, 2013. After retiring, Stormy started working on her Master’s Degree in Emergency Management. She volunteers with several of our local Veterans and with the Emergency Management Association. She also spends time going to her son’s sporting events, playing the guitar, singing with family and also writing songs. (www.soundclick.com/stormy)
So, in celebration of Women’s History Month and CW4 Stormy Ripley, this retired MSgt would have to say “We’ve come a long way baby!”
By: Sandra Thompson - Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum