Florida Guard female first to train on NASAMS
Spc. Sorimar Perez, the first U.S. female to train on the Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System, poses with her team members after graduating from the NASAMS course. All are members of the 1st Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery, Florida Army National Guard.

A Florida National Guard Soldier became the first U.S. female to train on the Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System, graduating from the course August 22.

Spc. Sorimar Perez, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery trained on the NASAMS as part of a requirement for the mission her unit will undertake in the fall of this year.

Perez became an Avenger crewmember in April after discovering the military occupational specialty was no longer only limited to males. The Avenger is an air defense system that provides mobile short air defense protection for ground units against air threats.

"I was in Headquarters and Headquarters Battery and would see the Avenger crews. I liked [the MOS]," said Perez. "As soon as the door opened for females, I took the [14S] course."

Perez, who had previously been an Army mechanic, said she had dreamed of being mobilized to support the global war on terrorism, but never thought she would deploy to the nation's capital as a NASAMS-qualified gunner.

"I am so happy," said Perez. "I can say that I am part of something that's very important. It's a great mission."

The NASAMS teams were comprised of three members. Perez said the training was challenging but her team members were supportive and treated her as an equal member. Her gender was never an issue, she said.

"I didn't think negative, I didn't think positive," said team member Sgt. Jason Rosander, A Btry., 1-265th ADA Bn. "We got out there, we flowed, and everything was perfect. I don't think gender matters. What more proof do you need'"

The third team member, Pfc. Aaron Braddock, launcher control terminal operator, A Btry., 1-265th ADA Bn., said he has always belonged to an all-male unit, but he said he deals with females in his civilian job as a law enforcement officer for the St. John's County Florida Sheriff's Office. Braddock said he kept an open mind about one of his team members being a female.

"I never thought anything negative," said Braddock. "We all had our roles, we did them, and we came out on top."

There were approximately 18 teams that underwent NASAMS training. Perez's team earned "top gun" due to achieving the highest overall score out of all the teams. The team was error free, receiving 100 percent on the crew drill, said Lt. Col. Grant Slayden commander, 1-265th ADA Bn.

The unit is currently mobilized at Fort Bliss conducting their mission rehearsal exercises. The battalion will provide ground base air defense for the U.S. capital region integrated air defense system, said Slayden.

"We'll be protecting the pillars of democracy," said Slayden.

Page last updated Thu August 30th, 2007 at 11:41