by Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
3/18/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- In
1952, Neva Cole had just graduated college. Her family had a long
history of military service; so she set off to join the Navy as part of
the family tradition. The role of women in her family at the time was
much different than it is today. Her father and her husband told her she
would absolutely not be joining the Navy; so with much regret, she
Fast forward nearly 60 years and times have changed, allowing her
granddaughter different opportunities. Staff Sgt. Madeline Whiton, who
was looking for a new career in 2008, went to her grandma for advice.
The young woman was encouraged to join the military along with her 16
other male family members in service.
"When I went to my grandma, the answer was to try something new, go see the world and not have any regrets," said Whiton.
When Whiton enlisted she found her future as a material management
technician. Currently with the 21st Space Wing, she helps manage the
flight service center and warehouse, which encompasses at least $1
million of replacement equipment per quarter and stores more than 3,000
"Sixty years ago, things were different for women who wanted to serve,"
said Whiton. "Joining the Air Force was something I always wanted to do,
and now I provide support for some very important missions around the
In the meticulous profession of supply, Whiton believes she brings the
same detail-oriented approach she has with her children to the
In 2013, the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron was tasked with
inventorying roughly 20,000 new items and either finding a new home for
them or retiring them from service. Whiton said she wanted to take a
calculated approach to the project in order to find the best homes for
each item if one was available.
"I believe that women bring something different to the table," said
Whiton. "We view situations in different ways and we can bring a diverse
approach to leadership. In no way are we better, but diversity can be
an extremely positive influence in any work environment."
Whiton has brought a different approach to her working environment,
winning her multiple awards including the 2012 Material Management
Airman of the Year for Air Force Space Command, the AFSPC Logistics
Readiness Airman of the Year 2012 and the Air Force Association Lt. Gen.
DeKok Outstanding Airman of the Year 2012.
"When I come to work, I treat situations like I would with my family,"
said Whiton. "Every decision I make will affect someone's life in a way;
I want to make sure I make the right decision."
Whiton said she has found her place in the Air Force and thinks of her
colleagues as family. She intends to continue her career in the Air
Force and work hard to support her family at home and at work.
"Women shouldn't be discouraged from service," said Whiton. "Women can
be just as mentally, physically and spiritually capable as men and they
are truly recognized for it (in the Air Force); it doesn't matter who
you are or your gender."
Whiton's family now has a total of 17 veterans who have served the
country in the armed forces. While only one of them is a woman, the next
17 will undoubtedly have more than one.
(This is part one of a series spotlighting women in the military. March is Women's History Month.)