BALTIMORE -- Name: Rachel Bowen
Rank: 1st Lt.
Unit: 175th Force Support Squadron
Job Description: 175th Services Flight Commander
Fulltime job: Project Support Specialist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Hometown: Norfolk, VA
Joined the MDANG: 2004
Total Service years: 11
Family: Just myself and my cat Cairo
Favorite Movie: Moonstruck
Last book read: Band of Brothers
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite Sports Team: Oakland Raiders!
Tell us your brief life story?
I was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. I was raised mostly in Norfolk until I was 13 and moved to Davidson, North Carolina when my parents retired from the military. I grew up as the oldest of five kids, and we always had dogs and cats. I moved to Bel Air, Maryland my senior year of high school and enlisted in the MD ANG in April 2004. Since then, besides a lot of babysitting, my first job was at a dry cleaners, and during college in addition to the Guard, I worked as a waitress, I was in a work study program, and was president of the Organization of Latin American Students (O.L.A.S). I graduated from Salisbury University in 2008 with a Bachelor's in Geography and worked at the US Census Bureau before my current position with the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory at NASA Goddard. I recently received a full scholarship with the University of Phoenix and started a dual degree program in June 2015 to earn a Master's in Health Administration and a MBA with a Project Management concentration.
Tell us about your military career?
I have known since I was at least 11 years old that I wanted to serve. Being the oldest of five kids, my passion has always been rooted in taking care of others. Serving in the military, there is so much of that, starting with your own troops and peers to your community, other veterans, and across the world. It is an incredibly rewarding feeling to feel and know that you made a difference. This is why I wanted to serve and why I continue to serve. There is something about the special camaraderie and pride that always intrigued me and I knew I wanted to be a part of it from a young age. I come from a long family lineage of military service, from World War I to a grandfather serving in the 82nd Airborne and was a member of President Eisenhower's Honor Guard to my other grandfather who served in Korea. I have a few uncles who served, as well as my mom who served 20 years active duty Navy. My father served in the Marine Corps and retired in the Army, and at his urging is why I enlisted with the Air Force. I enlisted at 17 as a weather forecaster and observer. From basic training, technical school, and my field weather school, my training was 15 months long. I was in the 175th Operations Support Flight with the A-10s for 8 ½ years until I applied and was selected in March 2012 for a Force Support Officer position with the 175th Force Support Squadron. I commissioned in December 2012 and upon my return, became the Manpower and Personnel Flight Commander. I became the Services Flight Commander in October 2014. I have the honor to work with such amazing Airmen that are some of the hardest and most dedicated workers I have seen in my career. They continue to inspire me and make me a better officer for myself and for them.
As far as memorable experiences, I have so many of them from over the past decade! A lot of them come from the incredible friends that I have gained and continue to gain, especially on TDY and school opportunities. I love that the Guard is such a family.
What brought you to the MDANG? How have you enjoyed your time here?
I will admit that I had never even heard of the Air National Guard until my father brought it up as a suggestion to me. I was set on the Marine Corps, and when the contract fell through, my next choice was the Army. My father point blank told me that he would not sign the papers for me to join the Army, and that is when he asked me "Why don't you join the Air National Guard? There's a base not too far from here." Within two months of that conversation, I had enlisted in the Guard and two months later I graduated high school, turned 18, and was beginning my career as a trainee at basic training. For the most part, I really have enjoyed my time here. The great people I have met have made it well worth it. I haven't been to some of the nicest places, but the people I have been with it what made those places fun and enjoyable. I love that the Guard is so unique compared to any other military component that not only are we ready to serve on a global level, but right here in the state that we are in. I plan to retire, and any year after I reach 20 years is because it is still fun and I feel that I can still help and make a difference.
What is your favorite Air Force or military memory or story?
What is your proudest moment?
As a lot of members that have been on TDYs, training, and deployments, we all have great and funny stories and memories. Out of all these though, my proudest moment would be when I received my commission. I knew that for a long time that I would want to become an officer. Getting through AMS was definitely a challenge, but to have my father, a retired major, administer my commissioning oath, it was literally a 15 year dream come true. It was one of the most precious moments not only in my military career, but also in my personal life.
What are you passionate about?
If you could wake up, in the morning, and do anything--and get paid for it--with no restrictions, what would it be? Are you working towards it or do you find time to do it? What are some of the things you enjoy to do on your spare time?
As stated earlier, my passion is helping others. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, and in some ways maybe it is selfish of me because I really enjoy the feeling of gratification in helping and being part of the greater change. Serving in the military is just one way to do this. I am pursuing my Master's in order to get into a career where I can better serve people in need. Ideally, I want to manage a Veterans home or a VA hospital, where I would be able to give back to the Vets that came before me and the ones who need help either physically and or mentally. The VA system is so broken right now, it's really heartbreaking. I want to be able to be a part of the change that is so desperately needed.
Besides working and school, in my spare time I love to travel and I love sports! I love going on random road trips and discovering new places and things to do. I live right in Baltimore City, so having a place to go do something local is never an issue. Also, I love sports! Originally, my dad is from California which is why I love the Oakland Raiders. I watch mostly hockey and football, but I do watch some baseball and love to go to baseball games. I have adopted the Orioles as a second team (Dodgers are my first) and living just a minutes' walk to Camden Yards, I have the luxury of being able to go to a game last minute, which has been pretty awesome.
I also enjoy volunteering, and have been a part of the Baltimore Women's Classic and the Alliance for Lupus Research for a few years now. I also want to volunteer more with Veteran homes. If you have never been a part of helping old war vets play Bingo, you certainly are missing out on a very comedic experience!