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.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders

57th OSS integrates new ATC radar system

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders Staff Sgt. Christopher Beier, 57th Wing Air Traffic Controller, monitors radar activity on the newly installed Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS, Oct. 15 a...
 
 

Future of AF helicopter fleets discussed at conference

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. — Air Force Global Strike Command’s Helicopter Operations Division hosted the Worldwide Helicopter Conference here Oct. 7-9, to discuss the current and future state of the Air Force’s helicopter fleets. The conference promoted cross talk among the Air Force’s helicopter forces, which are principally operated by Air Combat Command, Pacific...
 
 

Online vigilance helps reduce risk

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — I received at least five emails last week warning me to secure my social media settings and be aware of what I post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Why? Do you not like to see what I had for dinner last night? Too many #selfies? Are photos of my dog eating...
 

 

Nurturing relationships and a culture of caring

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — When life gets challenging, stressors can build and conflicts can escalate, sometimes leading to abuse. Preventing domestic abuse is fundamental to basic relationship maintenance. Partners in healthy relationships work together every day to nurture their relationship, taking care to address issues and concerns when they occur. Healthy relationships should...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika

Open House to celebrate Nellis’ legacy of liberty

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika Gary Nellis, son of the late 1st Lt. William Harrell Nellis, Nellis Air Force Base’s namesake, stands in front of memorabilia he has of his father at his home in Henderson, Nev....
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shad Eidson

799th SFS turns up heat, wins Fire Muster traveling trophy

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shad Eidson Members of the 432nd Wing Staff team fill a drum to complete the ‘Bucket Brigade’ final event during a fire muster challenge at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., Oct. 10. The 4th An...
 




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