Face of Defense: Soldier Breaks Through ‘Glass Ceiling’

By Air Force Master Sgt. Matt Hecht, New Jersey National Guard

New Jersey Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kristina Sofchak, a Black Hawk helicopter maintenance test pilot with Detachment 2, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment here, recalled that she loved to talk to her mother about career paths.

“I would say, ‘I want to be a waitress,’ and my mom would say, ‘Why not own the restaurant?’ I would say, ‘I want to be a nurse,’ and my mom would say, ‘Why not be a doctor?’” Sofchak said. “She was constantly challenging me to think about the things I could accomplish as a woman.”

Sofchak noted that her mother even named her in a way that could aid her with job applications.

“My mom purposefully named my sister and I with gender-neutral names, so I could put Kris on a resume, and my sister could put Casey,” Sofchak said. “She wanted us to be judged on our merits, not because we’re women.”

Inspiration

Sofchak was inspired in the 1980s by women such as Lynn Rippelmeyer, who became the first woman to fly the Boeing 747 and in 1984 became the first woman to serve as an airline captain.

“I heard about women making history in aviation while I was in school, and I told my guidance counselor that I wanted to be a pilot,” she said. “He said that girls couldn’t be pilots.”

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