185th ARW Women Make History > Air National Guard > Article Display


Sioux City, Iowa – In 1948, a law was officially passed allowing women to serve in all branches of the armed forces. Today, the Department of Defense celebrates March as Women’s History Month.


Women played a huge role in the 185th Air Refueling Wing beginning in 1963 with 2nd Lt. Patricia O’Brien, a nurse and the unit’s first female member.


A group of women in the medical field at the 185th ARW in Sioux City, Iowa, recently made their own history and made great strides in their military careers.


For the first time at the 185th ARW, the Base Medical Group has its first female commander, Lt. Col. Debbie Jacobsmeier. Jacobsmeier was the former base medical readiness officer and was recently promoted to medical group commander. This change in command placed her in the highest position in the medical group.


Women have played an important role in our past,” Jacobsmeier said. “I love that we recognize that. I’m proud to be one of the women that other young women can look up to and think about how they can also be in the position that I find myself in as I go. as their career develops.


Another successful woman in the medical group is 1st Lt. Amber Franco, the base’s administrative physician.


Franco said she’s grateful there’s recognition for women in the military, but recognition for any service member is a good thing.


“I have personally felt unique complexities during my career as a woman in leadership, both militarily and as a civilian,” Franco said. I don’t have a sexist mentality as I appreciate the strengths that men and women possess, but being recognized for women’s heritage brings awareness that women leaders do exist; we make waves and drive the Army’s overall vision and mission.


The 185th ARW also has high-ranking women on the enlisted side. Chief Staff Sgt. Mellisa Sanchez is the medical group superintendent. Sanchez has been in the military for over 20 years and currently holds the highest rank for enlisted military.


Sanchez expressed that she is honored to serve in the military.


“Not only to be a woman, but to be a Hispanic woman and to serve is a great honor for me,” Sanchez said. “I feel like diversity is key to any organization and any leadership. I like to say “If everyone thinks the same way, then nobody thinks”. I believe that everyone comes from different backgrounds and each person brings a different perspective to every situation. I keep this very close in my thoughts when I talk to others. Two individuals can have the same goals, but seeing how to achieve a goal differently can help us understand each other better. I believe we need to consider all perspectives to get the full picture.


The women of the 185th ARW hold many other leadership positions, including unit vice wing commander and security forces squadron commander.


These are just a few of the women present at the 185th ARW who, since 1963, have continued to inspire the next generation of women to make history.




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