Air Force

June 28, 2013

Lone female gunner aims high

Tags:
Senior Airman Daniel Hughes
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Airman 1st Class Natasha Libby, 66th Rescue Squadron aerial gunner, stands next to a GAU-2 mini-gun attached to a HH-60 Pave Hawk June 20, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. In addition to her responsibilities as an aerial gunner she also briefs passengers on safety and procedures and performs in-flight maintenance of airborne weapons systems.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Fresh out of training, Airman 1st Class Natasha Libby, 66th Rescue Squadron aerial gunner, is the only female aerial gunner assigned to the 66th RQS.

Libby, the younger of two children, bore great responsibility growing up and working on her family’s farm in Yakima, Wash.

Libby graduated from East Valley High School in 2010. After realizing she couldn’t afford college, Libby found a job at a Subway, where she worked for 11 months. During that time, an Army recruiter contacted her about joining.

Libby developed a desire to leave her hometown and become something more.

“I realized I wasn’t going anywhere …” Libby said, “So I made the choice to pursue a career in the Air Force.”

She went to an Air Force recruiter hoping to start a career that would be interesting and fulfill her childhood dream of flying.

She was initially designated to be an aircraft environmental systems apprentice. However, two months before shipping out for Basic Military Training, her recruiter asked if she would like to be an aerial gunner.

Airman 1st Class Natasha Libby, 66th Rescue Squadron aerial gunner, walks to the helicopter pad June 20, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Being the only female gunner in the 66th RQS, Libby doesn’t see herself as any different than any other gunner.

“I was stoked. I thought that was the coolest job ever,” Libby said, “I might have been excited but my family had mixed emotions. My father was very proud, and my mother was scared.”

While many see moving away from home for the first time as an obstacle; Libby saw it as a new beginning, providing her the opportunity to make the change in her life that she wanted.

During training Libby learned how to handle a weapon while flying, how to use different radios and how to survive during a crash or mishap.

“I was introduced to Libby in Aerial Gunner School, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas,” said Airman 1st Class Kevin Lerner, 66th RQS aerial gunner, “From the day I met Libby I could tell she was a natural leader, and someone who you could count on. She always had her nose in the books trying to learn as much as she could about the subject we were learning at any given time.”

As an aerial gunner, Libby operates weapons systems such as a GAU-2, GAU-18, and other weapons on an HH-60 Pave Hawk; but that is not her only responsibility. She also briefs passengers on safety and procedures and performs in-flight maintenance of airborne weapons systems.

Airman 1st Class Natasha Libby, 66th Rescue Squadron aerial gunner, examines the barrels of a GAU-2 mini gun mounted on an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter June 20, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Libby must inspect each part of the weapons systems on the HH-60 Pave Hawk to ensure safety and proper function.

Libby is dedicated to mastering her craft so that when a real-world mission comes, she will excel at the highest level.

Libby feels that being a female never added pressure, but instead gave her motivation to work harder.

“Something I learned during training is I can achieve my goals as long as I use my mind,” she said, “Everyone had to work hard during training, but I feel being a female I had to work a little harder to maintain the same level or better than the males in my class.”

Growing up on a cattle farm, she grew physically and mentally tough at a young age. The work ethic and morals she learned on the farm are the same ones she applies to her job now. The Air Force’s Core Values; Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do, reinforce those morals.

“Those weren’t new values to me,” said Libby, “I was able to see what my parents taught me, what I learned in life, and what the Air Force has taught me and I apply it in my everyday work environment. I don’t take those values lightly.”

After training she was assigned to the 66th RQS at Nellis AFB, where she is the only female aerial gunner in her squadron of more than 100 Airmen.
“It’s cool, that I am the only female.” she said, “But it doesn’t change anything, I still come to work like everyone else.”

Libby may be at the beginning of her career, but she doesn’t see it that way. She already has goals and aspirations of becoming a chief master sergeant and counseling Airmen to make a difference in their life.

“My whole life I have been grateful for what I have been given. When I am ready I want to pay it back,” Libby said, “The goal of joining [the Air Force] was to better my life; and if I can better other peoples’ lives, then that would be outstanding.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
1000-hours

Pilot reaches milestone, achieves 1000 flight hours

Maj. Matt Allen, a 706th Reserve Squadron full-time air reserve technician who is assigned to the 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron as an F-22 test director, stands by an F-22 Raptor before flight July 21, at Nellis Air Force B...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

Fuels management flight takes on Red Flag 14-3 full force

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis Senior Airman Daniel Millard, 419th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels journeyman, prepares to fuel an aircraft participating in Red Flag 14-3, July 22, at Nellis Air Force...
 
 
raptors1

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 

 

Air Force announces changes to headquarters organization

WASHINGTON — Air Force leaders announced changes to headquarters staff manning and organization July 14. The Air Force will create efficiencies by deactivating and realigning organizations at Headquarters Air Force, Major Commands, Numbered Air Forces and Field Operating Agencies, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion across the Air Force in the next five years. “I...
 
 

LEAP application window opens

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. — The Language Enabled Airman Program is accepting active-duty officer and enlisted applications July 15 – Aug. 22. Those intending to submit applications must register their intent to apply by Aug. 8. Officer candidate students in their senior years may also apply. LEAP is a career-spanning program to identify, develop and...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young

Red Flag 14-3 just days away

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young An F-15E Strike Eagle flies alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker while waiting for its wingman to finish refueling during Red Flag 14-2 March 13 over the Nevada Test and Training R...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin