CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - Soldiers of the 395th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), held a Women's History Month observance at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent here March 22.

The event included poems, an inspirational dance, and words from guest speaker Lt. Col. Paula Lodi, a Franklin, Mass., native and 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sust. Bde.'s commander.

Sgt. 1st Class Narly Rosales, a Meriden, Conn., native and 395th's support operations noncommissioned officer in charge, read the Women's History Month presidential proclamation. "Countless women have steered the course of our history, and their stories are ones of steadfast determination," she read aloud.

"From reaching for the ballot box to breaking barriers on athletic fields and battlefields, American women have stood resolute in the face of adversity." Sgt. Diana Jones, 395th's motor sergeant NCOIC, read a poem by Maya Angelou titled "Phenomenal Woman."

Staff Sgt. Shanna Culotta, an East Hanover, N.J., native and 15th STB's retention NCOIC, then read her essay on Gloria Steinem, a contributor to the women's equality movement. Culotta's essay won a base-wide Women's History Month essay contest, and she was awarded with a plaque and the honor of reading her essay at the event.

"Her ideas ignited and influenced an awakening for woman around the country," Culotta said of Steinem in her essay. "She has inspired, and continues to inspire, an aggressive desire for equality throughout the sexes."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Terri Watkins, a 395th container management officer and Spc. Ashley Blake, a 395th awards clerk, performed an inspirational dance while the event's mistress of ceremonies, 1st Lt. Deborah Vines, a Rocky Mountain, N.C., native and 395th's support operations transportation officer in charge, read the poem "To the Woman." The poem and dance choreography was done by Rose McEachin, an MWR technician and Vero Beach, Fla., native.

"To the woman who knows where she is going and will keep on until she gets there," Vines said, reading the poem. "Who knows not only what she wants from life, but what she has to offer in return ..."

Lodi, the guest speaker, then shared her thoughts on women's history. Lodi said that she didn't think too much about her or others' gender.

"One of my favorite sayings is that the authority on leadership rests with the led. That is simply to say that if no one will follow me, by definition I am not a good leader," she said. "There is little room there for me to consider the fact that I am a woman. In fact, I do better as a leader to see past gender and race."