Thank you to the women of the 514th Air Mobility Wing

  • Published
  • By Mr. Walter Napier III

March 8 is celebrated around the world as International Women’s Day. Placed within Women’s History Month, the origins of the holiday go back more than a century. In the early twentieth century, women in the United States took part in the suffrage movement to gain the right to vote and more independence within society. The suffragettes organized the first Women’s Day in New York City on February 28, 1909. The following year, German delegates at the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference proposed that Women’s Day should be established and celebrated annually. 
Despite the earlier pushes, the annual holiday failed to take hold at first.  It would go on to find its footing in an unexpected place, the Russian Empire. During World War I, the Russian population began to grow agitated with the increasing hardships the war placed upon them. On March 8, 1917, women from Petrograd textile industries started a city wide demonstration for “Bread and Peace,” attempting to push Tsar Nicholas II to bring an end to the war. The Russian women’s movement had unexpected consequences, with the Tsar abdicating a week later and the new government granting women the right to vote. It can be argued that the women’s demonstration became the genesis of what would become the larger Red Revolution. After the new Soviet government came to power, March 8 was made an official holiday.

For the next 50 years, the holiday was largely celebrated in communist countries until it was taken up by a resurgent feminist movement in the 1960s. The day became a day to call attention to women’s rights issues such as equal pay, equal opportunity and reproductive rights. There was a level of hesitation by the Western democracies associating with a day largely tied to communist countries (especially during the Cold War), but in 1975 the United Nations began celebrating March 8. By 1977, they began making a concentrated effort to enlist the support of member countries. From this point on, the holiday became more and more a staple in Western countries. 

Around the same time the United Nations was coming around to International Women’s Day, the Air Force and the 514th Air Mobility Wing were about to take part in its own piece of Women’s History. In March of 1976, the Air Force announced that for the first time, females would be allowed to enter pilot training. After maxing out the score for the pilot exam, Kathleen Rambo, later Kathleen Cosand, took the oath of enlistment in 1976, and joined 18 active duty and one Air National Guard member as the first pilot recruits. After passing Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training, she joined the 514th Air Mobility Wing as the Air Force’s first Reserve female pilot. Coming from a military family, she said at the time, “It is a dream come true!”  Cosand would stay with the 514th until 2001, and would retire as a Colonel after a thirty-year career. She had a true passion for aviation, and that passion extended to her family.  Her husband, a pilot, would also retire from the Air Force as a Colonel, and her children Meaghan and Rob both fly for the Air Force Reserve and in their civilian careers.
Thank you to women of the 514th Air Mobility Wing, we salute you. You all continue to advance the Air Force with all the hard work you do Happy International Women’s Day!