Female veterans from five branches of service tell their stories at American Legion meeting

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

From left are Larry Fischer, Sgt. Edith Kehrer, Major Bridget Guerrero, Petty Officer 2nd Class Kathy Nylen, Staff Sergeant Christina Frappier, and Commander Jillian Malzone.

Text and photos by Jerry Pickard

On Tuesday April 4, 2017 female veterans representing all five branches of the service related their time in service to members and guests of the American Legion Post 227 in Shoreline. 

Sgt. Edith Kehrer represented the U.S. Army. Her Military Occupational Specialty was 98c Radio Operator/Intel. After her husband died, leaving her a single mother, she joined the Army in 1973. She was sent to Missouri for Basic Training. It got down to 50 below zero during the winter she was there.

After completing Basic Training she was sent to Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas for her 98c Advanced Individual Training. She remembers the base as being dry and hot with lots of rattlesnakes. While there she also studied Cryptology.

After Advanced Individual Training she was sent to Ft. Hood Texas as her first permanent duty station. While at Ft. Hood she was assigned as a 2 1/2 Ton truck driver towing an equipment trailer. 

She was offered a post in Germany if she would extend her enlistment by four years. She agreed and she and her daughter left for Germany.

Edith spent much time in the field exercises on strategic assignments. While in the field she left her daughter with a family on base. She was a jeep driver towing a trailer with their radios, antennas, and field equipment. In the field, sleeping quarters were in a large tent or two to a jeep. She helped set up the long range radio antenna system which extended above the tree tops for the Tactical Operating Center (TOC). 

She trained to drive an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) but was never assigned to drive one. To pass her required Physical Training (PT) test she ran a Marathon and got a pass for it. While in Germany she was able to vacation in Rome, Paris, and Norway. She went to London with a base Girl Scout Troop.

Commander White with Major Bridget Guerrero

Major Bridget Guerrero represented the U.S. Marines. She said that she was a tomboy growing up and enjoyed competing with the boys. In college she joined the Marine ROTC and graduated as a Marine Officer. She ran marathons with a mostly male running team.

She went to the Amphibious Warfare School where she was an outstanding student. While at the school she was approached and recruited to an Army Special Forces unit. She spent four years with them doing many highly dangerous jobs. She is credited with 110 jumps while in jump school. She competed in a military decathlon and won.

She served in Bosnia and after 9/11 she was sent to Washington D.C. to set up an Operations Center. She was awarded Intelligence Officer Of The Year for her performance there. She is married and has three sons, two in the Marines and one in the FBI.

Petty Officer 2nd. Class Kathy Nylen represented the U.S. Navy. Kathy grew up in Edmonds and was urged to join the Navy after graduation from high school. The Navy offered her three career options: Storekeeper, Hull Technician, or Dental Technician. She selected the Navy's Dental Technician School. After Naval Basic Training she was sent to Naval Training Center San Diego for the Dental Technician school.

After completing Dental Technician school she was sent to her first duty station at USMCTC Parris Island. After Parris Island she was reassigned to Newfoundland where she met and married her husband. While in Newfoundland her father was diagnosed with cancer. Kathy applied for and was reassigned to Naval Station Bremerton to be close to her father. Her husband was reassigned to nearby Naval Station Bangor. While in Bremerton she got divorced and became a single mother.

After her father died she was assigned to TAH20 U.S. Hospital ship Comfort. In June through August of 1994 she participated in Operation Sea Signal, the first ever U.S. Afloat Migrant Processing Center after the Haitian earthquake. The Navy provided basic support services, food and housing to the refugees. Her department had one operating room and a fifty bed Inpatient Unit. She also deployed in Operation Uphold Democracy from September to October of 1994. This assignment required her to sign an agreement as to where and who her children would be living with while she was deployed. She signed and made one deployment. When she returned to port she picked up her children from Indiana and took them to her base. The day after she picked up her children she got new orders to deploy again immediately. She didn't have time to find long term child care so she was forced to retire from the Navy. She retired in October of 1994.

Staff Sgt. Christina Frappier represented the U.S. Air Force. Christina was an Air Force Brat. Her Father served 25 years before retiring. He was working as a recruiter when she joined on the Delayed Enlistment Program. She graduated from high school in 1987. In January of 1988 she went to Basic Training at Lackland AFB in Texas for six weeks. After completing Basic she went to Lowry AFB in Denver, Colorado for eight weeks of electronics training and then on to Cannon AFB in New Mexico for another six weeks of training on the F-111 Airframe Avionics. The F-111 is capable of speeds of Mach 2.5 or more. Mach 1 is the speed of sound and takes 4.689 seconds to travel one mile. In June of 1988 she arrived at her first permanent duty station at Pease AFB in New Hampshire. She had spent her first three years in high school at Pease so she met with old school friends while there. 

The base was under Strategic Air Command rules with Nuclear capabilities. Everyone had to contend with the Alert Facility with its NO-LONE ZONE rule. This meant that at NO time whatsoever can you be alone in this area. This made for some interesting working conditions. 

In August of 1990 she was reassigned to RAF Upper Heyford in England. Then Desert Storm happened and her unit flew almost 1800 missions dropping 4700 tons of munitions in a month. She went to numerous Temporary Duty Assignments during this time such as Nellis AFB in Las Vegas Nv., Zaragoza, Spain and Mountain Home, Idaho.

In August of 1994 she was assigned to Cannon AFB in New Mexico still working on the F-111 airframe. Here she also got many temporary assignments to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Eglin AFB in Florida, and to RAF Lakenheath in England.

In September of 1994 she was sent to Kadena AFB in Okinawa, Japan to work on F-15's, a smaller aircraft with smaller munitions and fuel loads. She got a few temporary duty assignments to Malaysia and upper Japan. While on assignment to upper Japan, Christina was notified that her father had suffered a massive heart attack and she had to go home. Unfortunately he did not survive. She soon left the Air Force and used her skills working on automobiles.

Commander White and Commander Jillian Malzone

Lastly, Commander Jillian Malzone represented the U.S. Coast Guard. Commander Malzone currently serves as Chief of the Contingency Plans and Force Readiness Branch at Sector Puget Sound. She is responsible for ensuring Sector Puget Sound is ready to respond to all emergencies, ranging from earthquakes to large scale oil spills to mass personnel rescue operations, with updated, tested, and proven contingency plans. She is also responsible for the readiness for operations and mobilization of Sector Puget Sound's small boats, eight cutters, and its 180 person work force.

Prior to her assignment at Sector Puget Sound, Commander Malzone was assigned to the White House from 2014 to 2016. As the U.S. Coast Guard Military Aide to the President she performed a wide array of functions that ensured that the President was able to execute duties as Commander in Chief, Head of State, and Chief Executive. Previous assignments also include Office of Personnel Management from 2011to 2014, where she was responsible for managing the careers of more than a thousand officers across various specialties and paygrades.

Commander Malzone is an experienced cutterman, having earned her designation as a Deck Watch Officer in 2001. She has served underway in support of numerous search and rescue missions, drug and alien interdiction missions throughout the Caribbean, fisheries patrols among the outlaying Pacific islands, icebreaking support along the New England coast, and waterways management throughout vital shipping lanes. She served as the Executive Officer onboard USCGC Kukui (WLB 203) in Honolulu, Hawaii, Operations Officer on USCGC Willow (WLB 202) in Newport, Rhode Island and Combat Information Center Officer onboard USCGC Gallatin (WHEC 721).

Commander Malzone is a native of New Jersey and was commissioned through the United States Coast Guard Academy, graduating with Honors in 2000. Her military awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (1 Gold Star). Commander Malzone holds a Master's Degree in Computational Operations Research from The College of William and Mary.


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