Coast Guard enlisted women aviators – “The Firsts”

The Women in Aviation International Conference is scheduled to be held this week, March 14-16, 2019, in Long Beach, California. Nine Coast Guard female aviators have been nominated to be honored at this conference. This blog highlights the enlisted women aviators who were nominated.

Robyn Rogers

Robyn Rogers

Robyn Rogers grew up in Bay Minette, Alabama, and enlisted in 1974. While assigned to a communication station as a seaman apprentice, she learned that the ban on women had been lifted and she could pursue her dream to become a helicopter mechanic. Rogers graduated from Aviation Machinist Mate (AD) class “A” school on Aug. 5 1977, the first female AD in the Coast Guard and the only female in a class of 18.

She worked on HH-3 helicopters in Kodiak, Alaska, and HH-52 helicopters in San Francisco. She returned to Kodiak and became the first woman assigned to the Aviation Detachment in support of Coast Guard Cutters patrolling the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.

Rogers left the Coast Guard in 1982 and settled down in Soldotna, Alaska, with her husband.

Andrea Gardner

Andrea Gardner

Andrea Gardner enlisted in the Coast Guard on March 1, 1976, a week after her 18th birthday from Grand Junction, Colorado, with the hopes of becoming a marine science technician or quartermaster. Halfway through boot camp she learned that aside from boatswain’s mate, the seagoing rates were unavailable to women. Coming from a line of mechanics, having worked on cars with her brother and flying with a friend, she jumped at an opening for Aviation Structural Mechanic (AM) class “A” school.

She attended the Navy’s AMH and AMS classes at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Millington, Tennessee, completing the training on Sept. 28, 1976, and became the first female AM in the Coast Guard. She specialized on the Grumman HU-16E Albatross fixed-wing aircraft at the Coast Guard’s Aircraft Repair and Supply Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Gardner left the Coast Guard in 1978 and settled down in Oregon where she recently completed licensing requirements for clinical social work for the State of Oregon.

Erminia “Minnie” Chillon

Erminia Chillon

Erminia “Minnie” Chillon enlisted in the Coast Guard on May 23, 1976. Chillon took an aptitude test to qualify for specialty schools and chose to be an Aviation Electrician’s Mate (AE). She received orders to AE class “A” school in 1977 and reported to the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Millington, Tennessee, and was the only female in the class. She completed the training in February 1978 and officially became the first female AE in the Coast Gaurd.

She worked on the HH-52A single turbine amphibious helicopter in Brooklyn, New York, and recalls not having a dry suit that fit, but were required for the over-water search and rescue missions. The commanding officer decided to send her to the manufacturer to be fitted in person.

Chillon let the Coast Guard in August 1980 and currently works for L’Oreal USA Inc.

Elizabeth “Betty” Uhrig

Elizabeth Uhrig

Elizabeth “Betty” Uhrig applied to the Coast Guard Academy in 1976, but when she wasn’t selected she decided to enlist for four years. She graduated from the Aviation Electronics Technician (AT) class “A” school on March 31, 1978, as the first female AT in the Coast Guard.

Uhrig qualified as a radioman and navigator on the C-130 and HU-16 fixed-wing aircrafts in San Francisco. She attended the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection Training at the Naval Base in San Diego, California, in 1978. She was accepted to the Coast Guard Academy and graduated in 1984 with a degree in ocean engineering.

She was chosen to attend flight school and was designed Coast Guard Aviator #2415 on Aug. 31, 1985, and became an instructor pilot. After 20 years of service, she retired in 2000. She continued to fly as the first female pilot by Chevron Corporation until her retirement in 2017. She is proud to have been in 109 countries in two fulfilling careers.

Dior Lowen

Dior Lowen

Dior Lowen signed up in the delayed enlistment program in November 1973 and was sworn into the Coast Guard by her father Master Chief Petty Officer Darryl Lowen in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in February 1974. After the ban on women in aviation had been lifted, she was now free to pursue her dream of working in an aviation career. Lowen was accepted into Aviation Survivalman (ASM) class “A” school and graduated in April 1976, becoming the first female ASM in the Coast Guard.

Dior received her ‘wings’ on Oct. 2, 1977 when she qualified as a flight mechanic on the HH-3 helicopter. In 1977, Dior married AT3 Kerry Hendricks, and left the Coast Guard in 1978 to give birth to their daughter Morgan.

In 1983, the family moved to Titusville, Florida to pursue a job opportunity for both parents at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). In 1984, Dior was hired by Martin Marietta at KSC and became a Senior Solid Rocket Booster Deceleration Technician, where she refurbished and packed the Booster Parachutes for the Space Shuttle Program. After working 18 months with the newly named United Space Boosters, Inc. (USBI), the Space Shuttle Columbia accident caused layoffs across KSC, and Dior was among them. In 1987, Dior was called back to work at USBI and continued her work at the parachute facility.

In 2010, Dior retired from USA and KSC with close to 28 years of service in the space industry. Dior and her second husband, Scott Hubel, now reside in Palm Bay, Florida.

Kelly Mogk

Kelly Mogk (Larson)

Kelly grew up in Seattle and enlisted in the Coast Guard in August 1984. In 1986 she attended the Aviation Survivalman (ASM) class “A” school and became the first female to complete the Navy’s Rescue Swimmer (RS) School on May 23, 1986, to become the first female ASM/RS in the Coast Guard.

Mogk qualified as a rescue swimmer in both the HH-3 and HH-52 helicopters during her tour at Air Station Astoria. She earned an Air Medal and an in-person congratulations from then President George H.W. Bush for her heroic actions rescuing a downed Air National Guard F-4 pilot from his parachute.

Mogk attended Officer Candidate School in 1993 and received her officer commission in February 1994. She was “winged” on May 3, 1996, with the title Coast Guard Aviator #3278. She transitioned into the Coast Guard’s HH-65 helicopter, becoming a pilot.

After retiring as a lieutenant commander in 2010, she continued working for the Coast Guard allocating resources, providing operational planning direction and oversight to multi-mission Coast Guard small boats, cutters and aircraft within the diverse Pacific Northwest operating area.

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