Women’s History Month: Airman finds place as pilot, role model

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Eunique Stevens
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
1st Lt. Manuela Peters, a pilot in the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, was recently awarded Air Mobility Command's 2008 Women's History Month Science Technology Engineering and Math Role Model Award. This award identifies and recognizes Department of Defense military and civilian personnel who have distinguished themselves in support of the Global War on Terrorism, and whose activities best epitomize the core values of their respective military service or organization.

Lieutenant Peters has been in the Air Force since the age of 17. Although her father, Col. Dennis Layendecker, United States Air Force Band commander, raised her as an Air Force brat, she had never thought of military service until her senior year at Ramstein American High School.

"I didn't plan on joining the Air Force until one of my teachers took note of me and suggested that I apply to attend the Air Force Academy," said Lieutenant Peters. Once accepted she entered the academy with the intent of becoming a public affairs officer. It wasn't until her senior year that she decided she wanted to be a pilot.

During her four years at the academy Lieutenant Peters was afforded many opportunities that most don't receive. "I participated in the French exchange, and spent six months at the French Air Force Academy. That's something I know I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do had I not joined the Air Force," she said. "There is such a camaraderie within the Air Force that you can't get in a civilian job. I knew I belonged at the academy and that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I never doubted that."

Lieutenant Peters has been at Fairchild since August 2006. Fairchild is her first station out of pilot training. She is currently serving as a KC-135 co-pilot, but is qualified in both the left and right chairs.

"There are major challenges that come with being an Air Force pilot. You sacrifice a lot due to frequent deployment rotations, but with the sacrifice comes a lot of reward also," said the lieutenant. "You have to remind yourself that when you join the military it's not just a self serving decision; it's about helping others. That's why joining is something that should be thought about carefully and not taken lightly. I can definitely say that of all jobs to have, this is the best."