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Utility Navigation

Women of the NOAA Corps: Reflections from Sea and Sky

2018
Mar 21

Transcript Content

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The year was 1972.
Folk, rock and soul music ruled the airwaves;
 
00:00:10.750 --> 00:00:14.699
platform shoes and bell-bottoms
defined modern fashion,
 
00:00:14.700 --> 00:00:19.460
and technological advances included
the pocket calculator and the first video game.
 
00:00:21.380 --> 00:00:24.500
President Nixon was elected to a second term
 
00:00:24.500 --> 00:00:30.620
and the Vietnam War continued to cast a dark
shadow over the country.
 
00:00:30.620 --> 00:00:34.200
In the sciences,
the space shuttle program was born,
 
00:00:34.220 --> 00:00:39.780
Apollo 17 sent the world the unforgettable
"Blue Marble" image of Earth,
 
00:00:39.780 --> 00:00:42.480
and the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps,
 
00:00:42.480 --> 00:00:45.440
a science-based service provided by the newly formed
 
00:00:45.440 --> 00:00:52.820
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
commissioned its first female officer.
 
00:00:54.180 --> 00:00:58.780
From then on, through their skill, strength
and expertise,
 
00:00:58.780 --> 00:01:03.640
the women of the NOAA Corps
have built and shaped a solid foundation
 
00:01:03.640 --> 00:01:05.180
for Women In Service.
 
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With only 321 active officers,
the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps
 
00:01:19.760 --> 00:01:23.960
is the smallest of the seven
uniformed services of the United States.
 
00:01:24.640 --> 00:01:29.160
It's very small because its focus is very
specialized.
 
00:01:29.179 --> 00:01:35.499
NOAA Corps officers serve at sea, on land,
and in the air commanding a fleet of ships
 
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and aircraft specially equipped to enable
scientists to study, understand and predict
 
00:01:42.170 --> 00:01:46.729
changes in the complex and dynamic natural
systems of our planet
 
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that sustain life as we know it.
 
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From the seafood we eat,
 
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to the weather we brave,
 
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to the ships that navigate our seas
 
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carrying people and cargo to and from our ports,
 
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to the deep ocean we have only just begun to explore,
 
00:02:04.960 --> 00:02:08.140
the work of the NOAA Corps
reaches every American
 
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- protecting our lives and property,
and preserving our natural resources
 
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for current and future generations.
 
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One of the most memorable stories
that I have over my career...
 
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One time when we were out...
 
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I'm surprised I went back to sea after my first sea tour...
 
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This is absolutely everything that I was looking for...
 
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That was a moment that I will certainly never forget...
 
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Like a photograph, personal stories are an
imprint of our life experience.
 
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They tell us something about our place in time:
 
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a memorable moment, a defining experience,
or simply those times in life when we intersect
 
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with people or places in random ways
that set us on pathways that we couldn't imagine,
 
00:02:56.290 --> 00:02:57.940
let alone plan.
 
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Everyone has stories to tell
 
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and those stories tell us about ourselves:
 
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what moves us, what challenges us,
what makes us who we are.
 
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These are stories of a small group of unique women
 
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who joined a small corps of unique purpose
 
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to serve their nation
 
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-- women from different walks of life
 
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who served at different points in time,
 
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but who all share the same sense of dedication
 
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toward the pursuit of understanding
and stewardship for our common home.
 
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I had one letter was,
"No women! Not now, not ever! Blaaaargh!!" You know...
 
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And I said, "That's okay....
About time he retired anyway.
 
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The story of women in the NOAA Corps
begins with a man
 
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who unlocked and opened the door of opportunity
 
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and a woman who walked through it.
 
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There was no reason women couldn't be commissioned.
None!
 
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No legal reason, no social reason,
no practical reason at all.
 
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It was just something that was overdue.
 
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The NOAA Corps was established
long before NOAA was.
 
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By the time NOAA became a federal agency in 1970,
 
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the Corps was already in its 53rd year,
having operated under predecessor agencies
 
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ever since it was first established in 1917.
 
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Admiral Harley Nygren began his service in 1947.
 
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Over his long career, he rose to the top job.
 
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He was the director of the Corps
when NOAA was established
 
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and the decision of whether or not to
admit women into the Corps was his.
 
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Ultimately, the responsibility was mine.
 
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But I had encouragement from the administrators.
 
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They didn't pressure us at all.
 
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Once in a while he'd say,
"are you ever going to have any women in the Corps?"
 
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And I'd say, "yeah, we're looking at it."
 
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So the environment was there and it was a
 
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matter of looking at the mechanics of it.
And the outcome was obvious:
 
00:05:03.300 --> 00:05:08.900
We had no basis for not recruiting women, none.
 
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There were good reasons for doing it -- social
reasons, economic reasons --
 
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all kinds of reasons for doing it,
 
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but one for not doing it was
 
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"we never did that before."
 
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And that's not acceptable.
 
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Pamela Chelgren was the first female officer
 
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to step up and test this new space.
 
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Together with her male counterparts,
 
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she and the women who followed laid
the groundwork for a new era.
 
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There were times at which I very much felt
pressure being the first.
 
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Because I was the first, if I did poorly that
would make it harder for women coming in behind me.
 
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After the class came through with six women in it,
 
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I no longer was worried about that.
 
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Pamela Chelgren's commission
 
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pioneered a societal shift in the Corps
 
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that picked up steam in the ensuing years.
 
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By 1975, eighteen more female officers had
joined the ranks of the NOAA Corps,
 
00:06:09.460 --> 00:06:15.280
including Evelyn Fields, whose career in the Corps
spanned 31 years.
 
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She attained the rank of Rear Admiral and
the distinction of being the first female
 
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commanding officer of the NOAA Corps.
 
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Before we got there, I understand that the
 
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commands spent a lot of time prepping their crew.
 
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'We're going to get these ladies
and you got to clean up your language,
 
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and you got to do this, and you got to that,
and you got to do the other.'
 
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It was kind of a test or platform that
the C.O.s didn't want to fail at,
 
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those that were fortunate enough to get us,
(and I do mean fortunate enough to get us),
 
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the women coming out of the class;
 
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they didn't want to fail either.
 
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It was a real step forward for the NOAA Corps because
 
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the other services, yes, they had women,
 
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but they didn't have women doing
the exact same job that the men were doing.
 
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You were sworn in as an ensign,
you went to basic training class and when
 
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you came out of basic training class you went to a ship.
 
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My first ship, I was the only woman on my first ship and
 
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when we got underway from Seattle
 
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for a four-month cruise to the South Pacific,
 
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there was 81 guys and me.
 
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I know the captain was very worried.
 
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He would have weekly lunches with me just
 
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to check in and see how things were going.
 
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My sense was, after that first sea tour,
 
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I would say about five percent of the guys were verbally, vocally supportive of me being there,
 
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10 percent were the opposite, negative,
 
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and 85 percent really didn't care.
 
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So you know, 'you get the job done, that's fine.'
 
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And that 10 percent,
 
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that really did change
 
00:07:59.639 --> 00:08:01.780
after the first couple of years.
 
00:08:01.780 --> 00:08:06.360
It took them really seeing that I was there
 
00:08:06.360 --> 00:08:08.620
to get the job done and I wasn't
 
00:08:08.620 --> 00:08:10.910
there to make trouble for people.
 
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I was really there committed to the same things
they were committed to
 
00:08:15.710 --> 00:08:18.160
and wanting to be a shipmate.
 
00:08:18.160 --> 00:08:21.040
And that really counts for something.
 
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In the journey of life,
 
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sometimes we follow a road out of curiosity.
 
00:08:28.979 --> 00:08:31.920
Other times we set out with clear intention,
 
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motivated by specific people or aspirations.
 
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Whether their initial plans were experimental or inspired,
 
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these women all answered a call
 
00:08:41.910 --> 00:08:45.780
of scientific service to their country.
 
00:08:45.780 --> 00:08:47.820
My dad was in the Coast Guard.
 
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He was in the Coast Guard and the Navy.
 
00:08:50.500 --> 00:08:53.300
My dad is a retired Navy Reservist
 
00:08:53.300 --> 00:08:56.280
and the proudest I ever saw him was on those weekends
 
00:08:56.280 --> 00:08:59.440
when he put his uniform on to go to his monthly
 
00:08:59.440 --> 00:09:02.420
weekend duty or his two weeks a year.
 
00:09:02.420 --> 00:09:04.740
And so I was groomed from the time that I was young
 
00:09:04.740 --> 00:09:09.430
to want to serve my country
to work on behalf of my country.
 
00:09:09.430 --> 00:09:12.040
That's, I think initially, too, what sort
of
 
00:09:12.040 --> 00:09:15.880
drove that desire to serve my country and
 
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to wear the uniform.
 
00:09:17.080 --> 00:09:20.140
I didn't know what my service
would look like growing up,
 
00:09:20.140 --> 00:09:23.260
but I'm not surprised that I'm
wearing a uniform today.
 
00:09:23.260 --> 00:09:26.180
I watched a documentary about the response
 
00:09:26.180 --> 00:09:29.500
to the Exxon Valdez oil spill when I was in high school,
 
00:09:29.500 --> 00:09:32.980
and that sort of set my compass to know that
 
00:09:32.980 --> 00:09:36.080
I wanted to do something with the ocean.
 
00:09:36.080 --> 00:09:37.960
I stumbled across the NOAA Corps website.
 
00:09:37.960 --> 00:09:40.880
I actually didnt know that NOAA even had
a corps of officers
 
00:09:40.880 --> 00:09:42.660
that drove the ships and flew the planes.
 
00:09:42.660 --> 00:09:45.800
So that was sort of just bumbling along
 following the websites,
 
00:09:45.800 --> 00:09:49.010
and found the old school
NOAA Corps recruiting video.
 
00:09:49.010 --> 00:09:52.940
And it was like, "do you want to dive and
do you want to fly and do science,
 
00:09:52.940 --> 00:09:54.420
and serve your country at the same time?
 
00:09:54.420 --> 00:09:56.300
I was like, "Yes."
 
00:09:56.310 --> 00:09:59.440
I looked it up online and I was really impressed.
 
00:09:59.440 --> 00:10:03.700
I noticed that they had a lot to do with
oil spill response
 
00:10:03.700 --> 00:10:07.520
and it was different.  It was about providing scientific support to the Coast Guard
 
00:10:07.520 --> 00:10:11.520
during major oil spills
and that really piqued my interest.
 
00:10:11.520 --> 00:10:13.860
My entire career I've worked for the Office
of Coast Survey,
 
00:10:13.860 --> 00:10:15.180
and the Office of Coast Survey
 
00:10:15.180 --> 00:10:18.580
collects the data that makes
the nautical charts for shipping.
 
00:10:18.580 --> 00:10:23.380
So in my mind, at least, that's a very clear,
relevant thing.
 
00:10:23.380 --> 00:10:26.480
You know, ships need to know where they're
going and how to get there.
 
00:10:26.480 --> 00:10:32.200
I mean, they're moving 80 percent of the
goods that are coming in and out of the United States.
 
00:10:32.200 --> 00:10:34.180
So, for me, that's a very clear mission.
 
00:10:34.180 --> 00:10:37.340
I don't think about it a lot, but when I
do kinda get down in the dumps
 
00:10:37.340 --> 00:10:38.820
about 'why are we doing this,'
 
00:10:38.820 --> 00:10:40.920
I just think about maps.
 
00:10:40.920 --> 00:10:42.000
We make maps.
 
00:10:42.000 --> 00:10:44.370
Who can't get behind a map?
It's information.
 
00:10:44.370 --> 00:10:46.300
It tells you where things are.
 
00:10:46.300 --> 00:10:48.080
You know where your resources are,
 
00:10:48.090 --> 00:10:50.540
you know where the fish habitat is,
 
00:10:50.540 --> 00:10:51.640
you know what minerals there are,
 
00:10:51.640 --> 00:10:52.840
you know where to lay a cable,
 
00:10:52.840 --> 00:10:54.860
you know where to put a navigation channel.
 
00:10:54.860 --> 00:10:56.754
There's a whole bunch of stuff going on
underneath there
 
00:10:56.754 --> 00:10:57.600
and there's a whole bunch
 
00:10:57.600 --> 00:11:00.890
of people on the surface doing a lot of different things.
 
00:11:00.890 --> 00:11:04.200
So, that's, kinda, the little speech I give to myself
 
00:11:04.200 --> 00:11:07.240
about maps.  I like them.
 
00:11:07.240 --> 00:11:10.810
The mission that we fly is
an important mission to the nation.
 
00:11:10.810 --> 00:11:12.720
We're out there collecting vital data
 
00:11:13.020 --> 00:11:16.680
that they use for hurricane forecasts and intensity models.
 
00:11:16.680 --> 00:11:19.700
That information gets relayed
to the National Hurricane Center
 
00:11:19.700 --> 00:11:21.500
for them to make better forecasts,
 
00:11:21.500 --> 00:11:23.680
and it's all about saving life and property.
 
00:11:23.690 --> 00:11:25.640
We want to make sure people are protected.
 
00:11:25.640 --> 00:11:27.960
In my opinion, that's why I'm out there doing my job.
 
00:11:27.960 --> 00:11:29.120
That's what I love about my job.
 
00:11:29.120 --> 00:11:30.440
I am out there making a difference.
 
00:11:30.440 --> 00:11:32.270
We are there to collect that data that could
 
00:11:32.270 --> 00:11:37.170
help somebody who is along the coast know
that the storm is actually coming their way.
 
00:11:37.170 --> 00:11:39.780
It's important.
And I feel proud after those missions,
 
00:11:39.780 --> 00:11:41.800
and it makes me want to go fly another one.
 
00:11:42.180 --> 00:11:44.640
I was involved in Deepwater Horizon.
 
00:11:44.640 --> 00:11:48.360
I was previously on the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter
as my first sea tour,
 
00:11:48.360 --> 00:11:50.760
and we ended up being the first federal vessel
 
00:11:50.760 --> 00:11:54.100
actually onsite to do oil spill response.
 
00:11:54.100 --> 00:12:00.500
That was an incredible opportunity to really
be there at a time of national disaster and
 
00:12:00.500 --> 00:12:02.100
to be able to play a part in that.
 
00:12:02.100 --> 00:12:05.010
Whether it's cleaning up oil spills or even
 
00:12:05.010 --> 00:12:09.780
just protecting endangered species like we
do out here or to help gather data
 
00:12:09.780 --> 00:12:10.920
for climate change,
 
00:12:10.920 --> 00:12:14.640
all of these things are going to have
major impacts on future generations.
 
00:12:14.640 --> 00:12:17.640
And to me, I couldn't get any fulfillment
 
00:12:17.640 --> 00:12:20.620
out of anything else the way that I do with this career.
 
00:12:20.627 --> 00:12:23.680
I tell people that I have the coolest job
 
00:12:23.680 --> 00:12:25.040
in the world
 
00:12:25.040 --> 00:12:28.600
and that has been my story since day one,
and it's the story that I'm sticking with.
 
00:12:32.940 --> 00:12:35.140
We all face moments in life
 
00:12:35.140 --> 00:12:37.360
that do not go as planned.
 
00:12:37.360 --> 00:12:40.860
Navigating the unexpected is a test of skill
 
00:12:40.860 --> 00:12:42.920
and courage under pressure.
 
00:12:42.920 --> 00:12:45.347
These challenges are milestones
 
00:12:45.347 --> 00:12:48.860
that speak to our strength or teach us a lesson,
 
00:12:48.860 --> 00:12:52.260
and from which we can either stay or adjust our course.
 
00:12:53.860 --> 00:12:55.340
You never really think about,
 
00:12:55.340 --> 00:12:57.940
'Oh, I don't know, I can't do this.'
 
00:12:57.940 --> 00:13:01.680
You just deal with it, get it done and move on.
 
00:13:01.680 --> 00:13:05.180
Our second flight from Turks and Caicos back to Florida,
 
00:13:05.800 --> 00:13:10.480
about halfway back, we're over
the Bahamas at this point,
 
00:13:10.480 --> 00:13:12.920
we get an engine fire indication.
 
00:13:12.920 --> 00:13:16.780
That, of all the things that could
probably happen to the plane,
 
00:13:16.780 --> 00:13:19.680
that's probably the one that you never really want to hear as a pilot.
 
00:13:19.680 --> 00:13:21.880
So the first thing that you hear is the fire bell goes off.
 
00:13:21.880 --> 00:13:25.690
So it's a really loud bell in the cockpit that sounds.
 
00:13:25.690 --> 00:13:27.180
And so you have this bell.
 
00:13:27.180 --> 00:13:28.850
You jumped to action, in that sense.
 
00:13:28.850 --> 00:13:33.080
You really don't have much time that you're
like, 'oh, let's sit and think about it or talk about it'
 
00:13:33.080 --> 00:13:34.880
You're like, 'run the checklist.'
 
00:13:34.880 --> 00:13:38.240
So, after we shut down the engine, we're calling,
 
00:13:38.240 --> 00:13:41.060
declaring an emergency, and so they had us divert.
 
00:13:41.060 --> 00:13:44.380
At this point we're at 8000
and also heading into some iffy weather.
 
00:13:44.380 --> 00:13:49.380
And they're like "Hey, Rock Sound is your
closest airport; go," basically.
 
00:13:49.380 --> 00:13:52.100
We're looking at: what's our runway length
at this place we're going into?
 
00:13:52.100 --> 00:13:53.790
We've never been here,
we have no idea,
 
00:13:53.790 --> 00:13:56.380
we're just headed in, single-engine, into this airport
 
00:13:56.380 --> 00:13:58.581
as storms and stuff are coming in around us.
 
00:13:58.581 --> 00:14:00.180
So we landed.
 
00:14:00.180 --> 00:14:01.310
Everything went well;
 
00:14:01.310 --> 00:14:05.820
it was my first legit single-engine landing.
You know, we practice it here.
 
00:14:05.820 --> 00:14:10.160
Surprisingly enough, simulation is pretty
much spot on for the real thing.
 
00:14:10.160 --> 00:14:15.380
So that was a huge confidence booster for
me to be able to fly this thing, single-engine,
 
00:14:15.380 --> 00:14:20.700
land single-engine in the middle of nowhere,
and go, 'all right, that wasn't too bad.'
 
00:14:20.700 --> 00:14:22.440
It wasn't as bad as you thought it would be.
 
00:14:22.440 --> 00:14:24.560
Whenever you have a challenge, to me
 
00:14:24.570 --> 00:14:28.630
(and I used to say this to the folks that worked for me),
 
00:14:28.630 --> 00:14:34.280
I don't look at it as a challenge.
I always looked at it as an opportunity.
 
00:14:34.280 --> 00:14:37.480
And I think that puts it in a whole new realm
 
00:14:37.480 --> 00:14:41.100
when you say an opportunity as opposed to a challenge.
 
00:14:41.100 --> 00:14:44.610
But what that does is it builds a level of confidence.
 
00:14:44.610 --> 00:14:48.980
So each time you take one of those opportunities
 
00:14:48.980 --> 00:14:53.380
and succeed at it, it builds the confidence
that much more.
 
00:14:53.380 --> 00:14:57.580
It definitely was one of those things that
nobody wants to have an emergency in the plane,
 
00:14:57.580 --> 00:15:04.230
but it was also a monster confidence booster
for me, and also a surety in both our training,
 
00:15:04.230 --> 00:15:06.300
our aircraft, and your skills.
 
00:15:06.300 --> 00:15:08.670
And I think it builds that confidence level
 
00:15:08.670 --> 00:15:10.760
to the point that you just kind of go,
 
00:15:10.760 --> 00:15:13.380
'okay, I'm ready for the next one; bring it on,'
 
00:15:13.380 --> 00:15:15.980
you know, and you just move on.
 
00:15:19.920 --> 00:15:23.840
The gifts of wisdom, encouragement and support,
 
00:15:23.850 --> 00:15:27.397
born of shared experiences,
become special bonds
 
00:15:27.400 --> 00:15:30.600
that shape our sense of self,
 
00:15:30.600 --> 00:15:32.500
connect us as a family,
 
00:15:32.500 --> 00:15:34.820
and carry us forward.
 
00:15:36.360 --> 00:15:39.540
One of the things they told me early in life was that
 
00:15:39.540 --> 00:15:42.573
in order for two people
 
00:15:42.580 --> 00:15:45.680
to really communicate with each other,
 
00:15:45.680 --> 00:15:48.240
they have to have some shared experience.
 
00:15:48.240 --> 00:15:51.140
You take a group, take a squad of marines
 
00:15:51.140 --> 00:15:52.350
and shove them through a firefight,
 
00:15:52.350 --> 00:15:54.860
those folks are welded forever as a family because
 
00:15:54.860 --> 00:16:00.160
they have shared that experience
and now they're communicating,
 
00:16:00.160 --> 00:16:01.980
and that's true anywhere.
 
00:16:01.980 --> 00:16:05.580
On my second ship, I was the only female in the crew.
 
00:16:05.580 --> 00:16:10.600
And so when Liz went out to one of her ships
 
00:16:10.610 --> 00:16:12.560
she was the only female in the crew.
 
00:16:12.560 --> 00:16:14.310
And just keeping tabs, you know, and just
 
00:16:14.310 --> 00:16:17.240
checking in, seeing if everything is good,
 
00:16:17.240 --> 00:16:20.900
we bounce off a lot of different ideas with each other.
 
00:16:20.900 --> 00:16:24.730
So it's been a friendship, mentor, mentee,
 
00:16:24.730 --> 00:16:26.720
and it goes back and forth.
 
00:16:26.720 --> 00:16:29.455
She's certainly spoken to me about
 
00:16:29.460 --> 00:16:31.860
blind spots that I had, and
 
00:16:31.860 --> 00:16:34.875
also strengths and how to capitalize
on those strengths
 
00:16:34.880 --> 00:16:37.300
to make me become a better leader.
 
00:16:37.300 --> 00:16:39.660
And I know in the past, as she was just saying,
 
00:16:39.660 --> 00:16:43.350
I've been a sounding board for her for sure in the past.
 
00:16:43.350 --> 00:16:46.880
And so it's kind of nice that it has gone
both ways,
 
00:16:46.880 --> 00:16:49.780
both up and down between us over the years.
 
00:16:49.960 --> 00:16:51.600
They're our support group.
 
00:16:51.600 --> 00:16:54.340
We know that we're all kind of going through
the same sort of thing.
 
00:16:54.340 --> 00:16:59.730
Whenever I need to vent, you know,
I'll just call one of my NOAA Corps friends.
 
00:16:59.730 --> 00:17:04.580
And we'll just scream about things for a
little bit and then it
 
00:17:04.580 --> 00:17:08.160
goes back to normal.
 
00:17:08.160 --> 00:17:13.959
They are people that I have maintained close
relationships with that I feel comfortable
 
00:17:13.960 --> 00:17:17.940
asking for advice, asking for help,
just keeping in touch,
 
00:17:17.940 --> 00:17:22.100
letting them know kind of what I'm up to,
sharing stories, different things like that.
 
00:17:22.100 --> 00:17:27.280
Look above you and look below at folks who
have gone before, folks who are coming up behind you.
 
00:17:27.280 --> 00:17:31.520
You're part of a really, fairly fabulous club or family.
 
00:17:31.520 --> 00:17:35.140
It's a pretty small alumni association
of a group that's done some
 
00:17:35.140 --> 00:17:37.440
very, very, very special things.
 
00:17:37.440 --> 00:17:39.160
You share a bond of service,
 
00:17:39.160 --> 00:17:44.360
you've made contributions to the country like
no one else has made.
 
00:17:44.360 --> 00:17:46.100
You're like a family.
 
00:17:49.860 --> 00:17:54.660
Although the idea of women in service is no longer
the novelty it once was,
 
00:17:54.660 --> 00:17:57.480
this is only because of bold decisions
 
00:17:57.480 --> 00:17:59.900
that created new opportunities
 
00:17:59.900 --> 00:18:03.320
and because of the courageous women
who seized them
 
00:18:03.320 --> 00:18:05.920
and forged pathways for others.
 
00:18:05.920 --> 00:18:11.700
Today, women serve prominently
at all levels of the uniformed services
 
00:18:11.700 --> 00:18:13.910
and have boundless opportunities.
 
00:18:13.910 --> 00:18:20.000
So, why is it still important to tell stories
of women of the NOAA Corps?
 
00:18:20.000 --> 00:18:24.500
I have no idea why it's important to talk
about the stories of women in the NOAA Corps.
 
00:18:24.500 --> 00:18:27.560
You know, to be honest, I wish that we weren't.
 
00:18:27.560 --> 00:18:31.000
I wish that we were just talking about
stories of the NOAA Corps.
 
00:18:31.000 --> 00:18:34.240
Like, who cares what you are as long as you
 
00:18:34.240 --> 00:18:36.640
can do the work or have the skills,
or have the training.
 
00:18:37.600 --> 00:18:41.260
I want my job because I'm qualified!
Not because I'm a girl!
 
00:18:41.270 --> 00:18:45.390
To be, like, a woman pilot I don't think it's
one of, like, a news-breaking thing, you know,
 
00:18:45.390 --> 00:18:47.280
they've been around for quite a while.
 
00:18:47.280 --> 00:18:51.460
I've been in the NOAA Corps for 16 years.
 
00:18:51.460 --> 00:18:55.540
I have never, in my entire career,
had any, I guess,
 
00:18:56.020 --> 00:18:58.200
reactions because I am a female.
 
00:18:58.200 --> 00:19:01.260
In my opinion, everything we do is about qualification.
 
00:19:01.260 --> 00:19:04.880
We get our jobs because we
are qualified; it's not gender specific.
 
00:19:04.880 --> 00:19:09.470
Gender is a thing that, really, in my mind,
I don't see it as an obstacle.
 
00:19:09.470 --> 00:19:13.590
I don't see it as something that's in the
way of anybody doing their job.
 
00:19:13.590 --> 00:19:19.340
What I see is highly trained people in this
organization going out and doing the things
 
00:19:19.340 --> 00:19:22.630
that they are passionate about and dedicated to.
 
00:19:22.630 --> 00:19:26.700
I can sympathize with the viewpoint that,
you know, 'why are we talking about 
 
00:19:26.700 --> 00:19:29.280
women in the NOAA Corps, it's about the Corps.'
 
00:19:30.460 --> 00:19:33.840
I was one of the few women in the Navy Reserve
 
00:19:33.840 --> 00:19:39.600
oceanography cadre when I was there, one of the few women at the outset in the NASA astronaut program
 
00:19:39.600 --> 00:19:44.970
and I didn't see either of those as,
you know, female quests or gender quests.
 
00:19:44.970 --> 00:19:52.060
That was a line of work, a role, a profession
I was qualified to pursue and interested to pursue,
 
00:19:52.060 --> 00:19:56.160
and wanted to earn my standing on the
basis of being a qualified professional.
 
00:19:56.160 --> 00:20:01.110
I also cared a lot about, being Navy, being NASA.
 
00:20:01.110 --> 00:20:04.330
I didn't want to be some subpart.
'These are the real NASA people
 
00:20:04.330 --> 00:20:06.460
and we then have some girls.'
 
00:20:06.460 --> 00:20:10.120
And so, I get the not wanting to keep saying,
 
00:20:10.120 --> 00:20:13.160
'here's the real NOAA Corps and then there
are some girls'
 
00:20:13.160 --> 00:20:15.020
or even to say, 'here's the real NOAA Corps
 
00:20:15.020 --> 00:20:18.460
and isn't it cute or isn't it amazing that girls are here,
 
00:20:18.470 --> 00:20:19.600
or that women are here?'
 
00:20:19.600 --> 00:20:23.150
It's neither cute nor amazing.
 
00:20:23.150 --> 00:20:25.980
We all, I think, hope that we can get to a point
 
00:20:25.980 --> 00:20:28.940
where it goes without saying,
 
00:20:28.940 --> 00:20:32.780
it's a given, and it's natural and it's accepted.
 
00:20:32.780 --> 00:20:36.720
But the fact of the matter is, as a society
and as an organization,
 
00:20:36.720 --> 00:20:40.060
we're working our way through some of these shifts;
 
00:20:40.060 --> 00:20:44.280
shifts in what roles are widely open or open at all
 
00:20:44.280 --> 00:20:47.740
to people of color, to people of different genders.
 
00:20:47.740 --> 00:20:53.530
And it is, therefore, still notable
by some and noteworthy to others that women
 
00:20:53.530 --> 00:20:58.179
are entering new fields; and the question
of, 'well how are they doing in those fields'
 
00:20:58.180 --> 00:20:59.680
matters to some.
 
00:20:59.940 --> 00:21:01.799
I can see both sides of that.
 
00:21:01.799 --> 00:21:06.840
I think there is a value to taking some time
to talk specifically about the stories of
 
00:21:06.840 --> 00:21:10.140
women in the Corps for two reasons.
 
00:21:10.140 --> 00:21:12.470
There will be women looking around, maybe
 
00:21:12.470 --> 00:21:17.180
still testing or questioning or wondering
if that's a path for them
 
00:21:17.180 --> 00:21:20.180
and I think the example and a bit of a shared insight
 
00:21:20.180 --> 00:21:22.580
about 'what is this work,' 'what is this place,'
 
00:21:22.580 --> 00:21:25.060
'what is this group that you're joining,'
 
00:21:25.060 --> 00:21:27.940
may help some of them steady up their course
 
00:21:27.940 --> 00:21:31.200
and hopefully draw them to NOAA and to the Corps and
 
00:21:31.200 --> 00:21:33.360
become part of the work that we're doing.
 
00:21:33.360 --> 00:21:36.360
And, on the other side, there may well still
 
00:21:36.360 --> 00:21:41.200
be some men or others who think,
'I don't know what these women are doing here.'
 
00:21:41.200 --> 00:21:45.740
And I would hope that they, too, 
would take a look at this film
 
00:21:45.740 --> 00:21:48.520
and maybe get a fresh glimpse
 
00:21:48.520 --> 00:21:53.060
of the caliber, the competency,
the professionalism, the integrity
 
00:21:53.060 --> 00:21:57.580
of the women who are serving
alongside them as officers in the NOAA Corps;
 
00:21:57.580 --> 00:22:01.340
and come to see more clearly
that,
 
00:22:01.340 --> 00:22:04.160
although they change clothes in a different locker room,
 
00:22:04.160 --> 00:22:09.040
they are on par: professional standing,
professional footing,
 
00:22:09.040 --> 00:22:12.380
competency, commitment, dedication and passion.
 
00:22:12.380 --> 00:22:16.940
They are true peers and true equals and maybe
shift that mind set a little bit, too.
 
00:22:20.100 --> 00:22:25.880
Looking back on life helps us to see the richness
and meaning of our experiences,
 
00:22:25.880 --> 00:22:29.680
those events that shape us
and become part of who we are.
 
00:22:29.680 --> 00:22:32.800
We may travel winding and varied paths
 
00:22:32.800 --> 00:22:35.420
and face obstacles along the way,
 
00:22:35.420 --> 00:22:39.490
and, from this, gain new insights and abilities.
 
00:22:39.490 --> 00:22:43.240
We may be lifted up by others and connected like family.
 
00:22:43.240 --> 00:22:46.340
Challenges that seem indomitable at first,
 
00:22:46.340 --> 00:22:49.900
perceived through the wisdom
that comes from experience
 
00:22:49.900 --> 00:22:53.060
may be met with surety and grace.
 
00:22:53.060 --> 00:22:55.420
What we discover through our life's work:
 
00:22:55.420 --> 00:22:57.980
our guiding principles, our values,
 
00:22:57.980 --> 00:23:01.260
or even just one word to live by,
 
00:23:01.260 --> 00:23:04.080
is a gift we give ourselves.
 
00:23:04.580 --> 00:23:07.460
If I had one word to describe the gift, or
 
00:23:07.460 --> 00:23:11.120
the most valuable thing
that NOAA Corps has given me...
 
00:23:11.120 --> 00:23:13.460
If I to describe the last eight years
in one word...
 
00:23:15.060 --> 00:23:17.120
Gosh, this is a tricky question!
 
00:23:17.560 --> 00:23:19.680
Ask the question again.
 
00:23:22.120 --> 00:23:24.480
I would say, "depth."
 
00:23:25.120 --> 00:23:27.320
It's grown me,
 
00:23:27.320 --> 00:23:28.680
challenged me,
 
00:23:28.680 --> 00:23:29.540
pushed me,
 
00:23:29.540 --> 00:23:30.860
stretched me;
 
00:23:30.980 --> 00:23:35.800
but at the same time, been some of the most enjoyable
experiences that I've had as well.
 
00:23:35.800 --> 00:23:41.640
So I'd say overall it's given me depth of
character, of experience, travel...
 
00:23:41.640 --> 00:23:43.800
can't beg for anything else in that regard.
 
00:23:43.800 --> 00:23:45.800
I think it's given me adventure.
 
00:23:46.220 --> 00:23:48.560
I've been to several continents,
 
00:23:48.560 --> 00:23:54.520
I've had the opportunity to fly
in helicopters during oil spills,
 
00:23:54.520 --> 00:23:57.670
dive with hammerhead sharks on remote atolls...
 
00:23:57.670 --> 00:23:59.700
I would say, "passion."
 
00:23:59.700 --> 00:24:00.890
"Interesting."
 
00:24:00.890 --> 00:24:03.980
There are good days and
there are bad days around here.
 
00:24:03.990 --> 00:24:08.960
It's not always awesome, it's not always bad,
but it's always been interesting.
 
00:24:08.970 --> 00:24:13.860
But if you believe in what you do, and you
love what you do, you can get through those
 
00:24:13.860 --> 00:24:16.900
bad days and you can make those
good days even better.
 
00:24:16.900 --> 00:24:18.840
And so you can do anything.
 
00:24:18.840 --> 00:24:23.140
You know I don't really care if I have a good life,
or a fun life, or I make a lot of money.
 
00:24:23.140 --> 00:24:24.740
I just really hope it's interesting.
 
00:24:24.740 --> 00:24:27.420
And I think, so far, it's been that way.
 
00:24:27.420 --> 00:24:29.400
The most valuable gift that NOAA has given me,
 
00:24:29.400 --> 00:24:32.301
my first thought was my independence;
that I can stand on my own,
 
00:24:32.301 --> 00:24:34.200
I've moved around seven times,
 
00:24:34.200 --> 00:24:39.120
that I can show up to a new place,
continue in my career, reach for my goals.
 
00:24:39.130 --> 00:24:41.080
That's what I like to think of my independence.
 
00:24:41.080 --> 00:24:43.500
But then, I've got the counterpart which is the teamwork.
 
00:24:43.500 --> 00:24:46.000
In my opinion, I love working with a group of people.
 
00:24:46.000 --> 00:24:50.880
I would rather come to work and work
with a group of people than work on my own.
 
00:24:50.880 --> 00:24:52.130
Which word do I use?
 
00:24:52.130 --> 00:24:54.700
Independence has allowed me
to get where I am in my career,
 
00:24:54.700 --> 00:24:58.540
but I love my career because the teamwork
that I'm actually able to be part of.
 
00:24:58.540 --> 00:25:03.460
If I were to describe that in one word,
it would be "resiliency."
 
00:25:03.460 --> 00:25:05.120
"Command presence."
 
00:25:05.120 --> 00:25:06.280
"Confidence."
 
00:25:06.280 --> 00:25:10.680
Conducting operations is very dynamic and,
to go out to sea,
 
00:25:10.680 --> 00:25:12.400
you're constantly operating
 
00:25:12.400 --> 00:25:14.580
and managing risk.
 
00:25:14.580 --> 00:25:18.990
The ability to, on a day-in-day-out basis,
 
00:25:18.990 --> 00:25:25.240
take a look at what the environment is providing
and being able to get the mission done safely
 
00:25:25.240 --> 00:25:29.450
is something that takes a great deal
of intestinal fortitude.
 
00:25:29.450 --> 00:25:33.400
But being able to go back at it again, yeah,
 
00:25:33.400 --> 00:25:35.570
I would say, "resiliency."
 
00:25:35.570 --> 00:25:39.730
When I say, "command presence," I guess
that maybe it only makes sense to
 
00:25:39.730 --> 00:25:42.580
somebody in the service or on board ships but
 
00:25:42.580 --> 00:25:45.470
that's a bearing that you have,
 
00:25:45.470 --> 00:25:49.440
it's a tone that you have, it's calm but directed,
 
00:25:49.440 --> 00:25:52.730
even if everything is hectic around you.
 
00:25:52.730 --> 00:25:58.840
"Confidence" because, as I look back
on my entire career,
 
00:25:58.840 --> 00:26:04.850
you always have that question mark as to
whether you can do something or not.
 
00:26:04.850 --> 00:26:06.160
You might not show it,
 
00:26:06.160 --> 00:26:10.240
you might not come across as being,
 
00:26:10.240 --> 00:26:13.240
oohh... scared to death,
 
00:26:14.640 --> 00:26:17.400
but that confidence level builds.
 
00:26:17.400 --> 00:26:20.720
It builds a little bit more
with each opportunity that you get
 
00:26:20.720 --> 00:26:23.460
and you walk away feeling like,
 
00:26:23.460 --> 00:26:26.000
'okay I can conquer the world and it's gonna be okay.'
 
00:26:28.860 --> 00:26:33.740
These young ladies have done some, just, incredible things because they were given an opportunity.
 
00:26:33.740 --> 00:26:39.320
I'm just so inspired and so impressed
with the quality and capabilities
 
00:26:39.320 --> 00:26:41.900
of the people that work for the NOAA Corps.
 
00:26:41.900 --> 00:26:48.320
It's gratifying to see that the talent gets better and better and better and I think that's
 
00:26:48.320 --> 00:26:52.240
what you really ultimately hope for.
 
00:26:52.240 --> 00:26:57.240
All of us can be very proud of where
all of NOAA stands at this point,
 
00:26:57.240 --> 00:27:00.420
not just the officers but the civilian side, too.
 
00:27:00.429 --> 00:27:02.820
It's very positive.
 
00:27:02.820 --> 00:27:05.860
I can never think about the NOAA Corps without
 
00:27:05.860 --> 00:27:11.480
reminding myself that President Thomas Jefferson
started the ball rolling in 1807
 
00:27:11.480 --> 00:27:13.540
with the survey of the coast.
 
00:27:13.540 --> 00:27:15.720
As we look back at the history of the NOAA Corps now,
 
00:27:15.720 --> 00:27:18.340
we should remember to look all the way that far back
 
00:27:18.340 --> 00:27:21.420
and think about what that first impetus was.
 
00:27:21.420 --> 00:27:26.720
And I find it fabulous and gratifying to look at
the today of the NOAA Corps
 
00:27:26.720 --> 00:27:29.020
and say that's still what it's about.
 
00:27:29.020 --> 00:27:33.880
It's the capacities to measure and monitor
and understand our planet that are vital to
 
00:27:33.880 --> 00:27:38.640
the health and vitality of our country,
of our society, and of our economy.
 
00:27:38.640 --> 00:27:41.660
I have every confidence, if Thomas Jefferson
were here today
 
00:27:41.660 --> 00:27:46.300
and maybe Alexander Hamilton along with him, who
started the Coast Guard;
 
00:27:46.300 --> 00:27:49.320
they'd be amazed and tremendously proud
 
00:27:49.320 --> 00:27:51.400
of what the NOAA Corps has become and they would be
 
00:27:51.400 --> 00:27:55.960
particularly impressed with the people who
serve in the NOAA Corps.
 
00:27:55.960 --> 00:28:00.560
Being founding fathers they might be slightly
astonished that women were serving in the NOAA Corps
 
00:28:00.560 --> 00:28:03.680
and serving in every imaginable
position of responsibility.
 
00:28:03.680 --> 00:28:07.460
They would be hugely gratified
to see how the glimmer in their eyes back then
 
00:28:07.460 --> 00:28:10.360
has lived through the years and continues today
 
00:28:10.360 --> 00:28:11.987
to serve the country and serve the planet
 
00:28:11.987 --> 00:28:14.060
so brilliantly well.
 
 
 

 

 

 

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