By Lena Anthony
Volume 146, Number 6, November/December 2012, Page 6-7
Captain Lorilyn Woods,
Orlando Chapter, Orlando, Fla.
After completing her first year at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Captain Lorilyn Woods took a ride in a Blackhawk helicopter. It was that ride during summer training that set her sights on pursuing aviation. After graduation in 2004, Capt. Woods went directly to Fort Rucker in Alabama, where she learned to fly the AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter.
In 2008, Capt. Woods spent 11 months as company commander in Iraq, where she flew in support of the ground troops stationed at COB (Contingency Operating Base) Speicher.
“When the Apaches were around, the ground troops knew they wouldn’t get shot at,” she says. “It was so rewarding to know that, by being their eyes in the sky and giving them a better idea of what was going on around them, I was protecting them and keeping them out of harm’s way.”
Capt. Woods, who was the only female pilot in her unit in Iraq, says many of the troops were surprised to hear a woman’s voice on the radio. One time she even got asked out over radio.
“I was escorting a convoy when one of the guys asked if I would eat breakfast with him,” she recalls. “The whole convoy could hear the conversation. Needless to say, I turned him down.”
Following her deployment, Capt. Woods went to graduate school to prepare for her current post—teaching military movement to cadets at West Point. “It was a course I enjoyed when I was a cadet,” she says. “It helps develop coordination, agility and greater confidence to navigate obstacles that they might encounter in combat,” she says.
Capt. Woods enjoys being back at her alma mater, because she believes in its mission. “I find a lot of purpose being in the military,” she says. “I deeply love this country and what it stands for and the values it protects.”
That’s also why being a DAR member is important to her: “Sometimes it’s easy to forget about all of the things we’ve gone through as a country,” she says. “But the DAR works hard to make sure we don’t forget about the sacrifices of the Founding Fathers and those before us.”
Major Roberta Comerford,
Tioughnioga Chapter, Cortland, N.Y.
As a member of the 27th Infantry Brigade of the New York Army National Guard for the past 19 years, Major Roberta Comerford has been deployed three times: First to Fort Drum, N.Y., then she was sent to Iraq, and now she’s in Kuwait, where she serves as director of emergency services and provost marshal in Northern Kuwait. She oversees hundreds of military and contract police and fire and EMS personnel charged with protecting U.S. military facilities in Kuwait.
When asked what a typical day is like, Maj. Comerford laughs before explaining that “a typical day is an atypical day.” But, she says, it shares many similarities with her civilian job as a sergeant supervisor in the North Syracuse, N.Y., police force. “Stolen property is stolen property, whether it happens back home or on a military base,” she says.
Maj. Comerford knew she wanted to go into law enforcement after completing a college internship and getting hired full-time at the district attorney’s office. “I really love law, and I found it so interesting,” says Maj. Comerford, who became a military police officer in 1993 and joined the North Syracuse Police Department five years later.
Back home in New York, Maj. Comerford also serves as chapter regent of Tioughnioga Chapter, Cortland, N.Y.
“I love being a Daughter, especially doing what I do,” she says. “It makes me proud, knowing that one of my ancestors fought for our freedom and that I’m doing the same. And the support I get from other Daughters has been great—I’m always getting cards and care packages thanking me for my service.”
Maj. Comerford says she hopes to be home in time for Christmas and looks forward to spending time with family and friends—and eating a good meal. On her list of must-eat foods when she gets back: “Crab legs, a good pizza, homemade macaroni and cheese, and a banana split.”
Captain Diana Arnold,
John Greenleaf Whittier Chapter, Whittier, Calif.
When Diana Arnold received an Army recruitment letter in February 2005, she threw it away, thinking it was a joke. “Why would the Army want me?” thought Captain Arnold, a registered dietitian at the time. But the more she learned about being in the Army Reserves—from friends and the Army recruiter with whom she met—the more she realized that it was a good fit.
Once she joined, she threw herself into being a reservist. “I celebrated both my 25th wedding anniversary and my induction into the Army the same day,” Capt. Arnold says. “I was in an Armed Forces Parade on my 50th birthday, and celebrated my 30th anniversary doing field training.”
Climbing the ranks quickly, Capt. Arnold became a company commander of her unit four years ago, but stepped down earlier this year when the opportunity came up to spend nine months in Kuwait as the nutrition care officer in charge of the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations.
“When I got this opportunity, I took it because there aren’t many missions for dietitians, so I didn’t know if another one would ever come up,” says Capt. Arnold, who is one of two Army dietitians currently deployed (the other is in Afghanistan).
As part of her deployment, which started in August, Capt. Arnold offers nutrition education to the 30,000 Americans, including members of all military branches, Department of Defense personnel and American contractors who are stationed in Kuwait and Qatar.
Capt. Arnold says she works long hours (typically 12 to 13 hours a day), but does get one day off a week. She fills the day with a variety of activities, including country western dancing (yes, even in Kuwait), watching movies and participating in some of the fun runs held on base.
Capt. Arnold says serving her country is something she’s extremely proud to do. “Next to marrying my husband, it’s the best decision I’ve made,” she says.
She’s also proud of being a DAR member, and appreciative of the support fellow members provide her while she is deployed. “My chapter is devoted to patriotism, and we were always packing care packages or writing thank-you cards to soldiers overseas,” says Capt. Arnold, whose daughter, Tessa, also is a member. “I never thought I’d be the soldier on the receiving end of that package, but now I know just how special that is.”