Soldiers show creativity, charisma during Women's Equality Day contest
September 5, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 5, 2013) -- At first glance, it seemed like an out-of-place topic for a Women's Equality Day presentation.
Name: Lyudmila Pavlichenko, born 1916.
Occupation: Russian sniper.
Career accomplishments: Master's degree from Kiev University (age 21); joined the Red Army's 25th Rifle Division (infantry); 309 confirmed kills (survival rate of female snipers was only 25 percent), earned Hero of Soviet Union medal, the highest award for Russian soldiers; was the first Soviet citizen to be received by President Franklin Roosevelt at the White House.
Clearly, this was a woman who broke many "glass ceilings," and knowing that about her put the tri-fold display created by Spc. Sheila Moss, 2nd Platoon, 54th Quartermaster Company, into perspective.
"She is one of my personal heroes," said Moss, who was selected as the winner of a first-time contest in which each platoon from her Fort Lee-based unit created a display that depicted a famous figure one might think of when considering the significance of the annual Aug. 26 women's equality observance. Other contest subjects included Shirley Chisholm, the first black congresswoman, Beverly Sue Clark, a sustainment Soldier who was killed in a missile attack during Desert Storm and the namesake for Clark Fitness Center here, and Marie Curie, a physicist and chemist who is famous for her unprecedented research on radioactivity.
The Moss presentation included two photos of Pavlichenko, the words of a song that is dedicated to her and a drawing of a Russian-issued Mosin Nagant bolt-action rifle. The 24-year-old, Brooksville, Fla., native said she's familiar with the weapon because she has one at home.
"What can I say? … I love guns," explained Moss who said she spent most of her childhood hunting, fishing and four-wheeling. "My dad raised me like a guy, and there is just this expectation in my family for all of us to be bad-asses. It's a military family also. My grandfather was a Navy Seal and my father was in the Air Force."
And Moss wasn't kidding when she called Pavlichenko a personal hero … her first stop when she was ready to join the military was the Marine Corps recruiting office where she wanted to volunteer for sniper school. At the time, the law excluded women from career fields that involved direct combat, so she took her business to the Army and agreed to serve as a mortuary affairs specialist.
"I love what I do now, this is a good career field, but I'll be trying to get into combat arms as soon as I can since the restriction has been lifted," Moss said. "I'm not going to give up on my dream of being behind a rifle for a living."
In response to her Women's Equality Day contest victory, Moss said she's proud that she won it for her platoon. All of the presentations will be displayed in the lobby area of the Army Women's Museum for the next couple of weeks. Facility Director Francoise Bonnell told the troops she is proud of all the hard work they put into the projects and the creativity that clearly shows.
"This contest shows how we see things through different lenses. Each of you captured a separate element of what women's history is all about," Bonnell told the Soldiers just minutes before the winner was announced. "I'm excited to have your work on display at the museum, and I hope everyone in the community takes a moment to stop by and have a look at your contributions."
Staff Sgt. Glenn Jackson, the 54th QM Co., platoon sergeant who organized the contest, expressed his thanks to the participating Soldiers as well. The idea of the event, he said, is to build camaraderie while placing emphasis on the various observances that celebrate the diversity of the Army team.
"The commitment you demonstrated during this contest mirrors that of our military leaders," he told the participants. "These observances are meant to educate us and give us an understanding and appreciation of all the Soldiers in our ranks. This is something I'm determined to keep going, so start thinking about your presentations for (November's Native American Heritage Month)."