Major Devon Meister and Major Ashley Lundry,

It Was Their Month In History, But Why didn’t We Know About Them?

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Just in case you missed it March was Women’s History Month. As a result I found out about some women that have not really been acknowledged enough for their great achievements. I have learned about some incredible people during February with Black History Month and the same thing has been true with March and women.

Women have had a significant role in the military, but I’ll bet you haven’t heard about these two. An article on the U.S. Air Force website written by Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo, 403rd. Wing Public Affairs and published April 2, 2018,  highlighted two women who have achieved careers in the Air Force that have traditionally gone to men.

Major Devon Meister and Major Ashley Lundry,
Major Devon Meister (left), a pilot, and Major Ashley Lundry, a meteorologist | Photo by Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo, 403rd. Wing Public Affairs

Major Devon Meister, a pilot, and Major Ashley Lundry, a meteorologist, are members of the well known Hurricane Hunters officially the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron which annually flies into severe tropical weather conditions from June 1st until November 30th.

WC-130J Aircraft
WC-130J US Air Force Hurricane Aircraft | Photo by U.S. Air Force through www.youtube.com

In a previous column titled “They Don’t Always Obey The Rules” I explained the work of the Hurricane Hunters:  You may have heard of the Hurricane Hunters who fly over and around these massive storms to gather the data necessary to follow these storms and figure out where they are going to go. The storm tracking missions are preformed by The United States Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hurricane Hunters. The Air Force crews the WC-130J aircraft for their missions while the NOAA crews fly the WP-3d Orion aircraft for their work.

View Above A Hurricane
A Hurricane As Seen From WC-130J Aircraft | Photo by US Air Force through www.youtube.com

They use the older 4-propeller driven planes instead of the newer, sleeker, and faster jet aircraft available today because is that the propeller driven planes that are tougher and more stable in the high winds and heavy rains that they have to fly through. Secondly they need to be able to fly at a slower speed to be able to get the necessary data.

Dropsonde
Dropsonde Equipment Package | Photo by www.newshearld.com

They use a dropsonde which is also called a sonde. It is a package of equipment that measures the barometric pressure, temperature, etc. above and in the storm after it is dropped from the airplane. It has a parachute attached to slow it down as it passes through the various layers of the storm and even the eye of a hurricane. They have to make multiple passes through very turbulent air to drop them in specific locations. It is a dangerous job that is absolutely necessary to enable pinpointing where the storms are, how strong the winds are, and the direction in which they are going in order to plot where they will have an affect on landmasses and people.

Let’s get back to the two Air Force officers themselves. Major Devon Meister earned her mathematics degree from the University of South Florida. She joined the Air Force and they sent her to get a second bachelor’s degree in meteorology at the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. She then attended the Weather Officer Course at Keesler Air Force Base. As I have mentioned, that is where the Hurricane Hunters are based. She toured their facility and saw what their mission was. Next she had the opportunity to be trained as a pilot, but the unit she was in lost its mission. That prompted her to contact the Hurricane Hunters and they signed her up in November 2011.

Major Ashley Lundry  dreamed of going on missions with the Hurricane Hunters when she was a little girl. Her father, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a Navy pilot was quite a role model so it wasn’t to much of a stretch for her to follow up on her childhood dream. She attended, with an Army ROTC scholarship, the Florida Institute of Technology where she earned a bachelors degree in meteorology and her commission in the army in 2006. Next she received a master’s degree in physical science from Emporia State in Kansas. For 4 years she was an Army logistics officer transferring to the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 2010.  Lundry attended the Weather Officer course at Kesler Air Force Base. As result of touring the Hurricane Hunter’s facility she transferred to the  53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.

Quoting the U.S. Air Force article ” As women with mathematic and scientific degrees in scientific career fields that are typically dominated by men, Meister and Lundry are setting an example for future generations. In 2015, women filled 47 percent of all U.S. jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Office Economics and Statistics Administration Office of the Chief Economist ‘STEM jobs: 2017 update.'”

Hidden Figures
“Hidden Figures” Movie | Image by fox movies.com

A book that was released as a movie in 2016, titled “Hidden Figures,” revealed that three black women were instrumental in making our space program a success. Without them our space program might not have even gotten off the ground. I would like to know why it took so long for us to find out what these brilliant and heroic women accomplished back in the 1960s. This leads me to wonder just how many stories like this one, of monumental successes made by minorities, have not been revealed throughout history. Lets hope this starts a trend of getting the missing parts of history brought out so we can all see just how valuable these role models can are.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: tim.chuey@eugenedailynews.com.

Tim Chuey is a Member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association and has been Awarded Seals of Approval for television weathercasting from both organizations.