By: Jasper Craven for VTDigger, Dec. 2, 2018
From an early age, Heather King understood the challenges of being a woman in the military. Decades later, she said she faced the perils of working while female in the Vermont Air National Guard.
King comes from a long line of military members. Her father was a flight simulator mechanic; her mother was a radar plotter in the U.S. Air Force. King’s mother enlisted in 1954, just six years after Congress first permitted women to serve as permanent military members with passage of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act.
As a radar plotter, King’s mother jotted coordinates and commands on a glass panel. The information was written backwards so that the crew on the other side of the glass could read her words. While her work at the Air Defense Command at New York’s Stewart Air Force Base was highly sensitive, there were also lighthearted tasks. She was part of the first crew that plotted the path of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, which has since became an annual tradition by the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
King’s mother loved her work, but was forced to leave her job in 1956, after she became pregnant with King’s older sister. The message to her from the military was clear: “You are no longer useful to us.”