Throughout the history of civilization, there have been countless women who have helped shift the world. Women’s History Month is to be celebrated once again this March, and this year we focus on this accomplished woman who changed the U.S. Air Force forever.

The History of Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month has taken place each March since 1987. Originally conceived as National Women’s History Week, it was celebrated on the week of March 8, 1980, and recognized by President Jimmy Carter. The following year, it became a national occasion; six years later, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand it to the entire month of March.

International Women’s Day preceded Women’s History Month, which began as an international celebration on March 8, 1911. The United Nations started sponsoring it in 1975 and continues to this day.

Educational initiatives, demonstrations and presenting gifts and flowers to women are common occurrences during these times.

Kathy La Sauce, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel

"The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."“The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.”

Among many other accomplished women, Kathy La Sauce stands out for her groundbreaking military service.

“Don’t ever accept a barrier…talent can be both male and female.” This quote from La Sauce, the first woman to become an aircraft commander at Norton Air Force Base and pilot a C-141 Starlifter, encompasses the dedication many extraordinary women have shown in overcoming exceptional hurdles.

When La Sauce first joined the military in 1972 during the Vietnam War, she joined out of unreserved patriotism. Women weren’t allowed to fly then, and La Sauce knew this but wanted to do her part. She began in maintenance, as she was skilled in mechanical work. When the academies opened up to women in 1976, La Sauce was one of the first to enroll.

La Sauce graduated from Williams Air Force Base with one of the first classes of women graduates for the academy on Sept. 2, 1977. She was assigned to the 14th Military Airlift Squadron at Norton when she piloted the C-141 Starlifter, a massive cargo jet. She would end up logging over 3,000 hours in the plane.

She would later become the first woman to fly presidential support missions for the 89th Airlift Wing while piloting the VC-135 aircraft. She escorted the late first lady Barbara Bush off the flight line and met Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev. She also has the distinction of escorting British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

La Sauce held the position of commander of the current-day 89th Aerial Port Squadron from 1988 to 1992. In total, she served 20 years in the Air Force before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Her class, designated 77-08, was noteworthy in itself for producing many women who would later earn notable military accomplishments alongside La Sauce. Some of them would go on to be inducted into the Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame in 2016.

You can find Lt. Col. La Sauce’s flight suit proudly exhibited at Norton Air Force Base Museum.

La Sauce was part of a greater movement to introduce women into the military, which had been a long time coming. The Women in the Air Force program began back in 1948, and after La Sauce retired, women started being seen as equals in the field.

Celebrate the accomplishments of women, both in and outside the military

Kathy La Sauce is just one of many women who helped shape the world as it is today. There are still many barriers to break through, but women have shown they will always step up to the challenge and fight to be second to none.