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"To me, that was about the same thing as being offered the opportunity to be an Olympic athlete. It just wasn't something you turn down." (Video interview, 2:59)

   Elisa Anne Raney
Image of Elisa Anne Raney
Elisa Raney [detail from video]
War: Iraq War, 2003-2011
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Seattle (AOE 3) Defense Contract Management Office; HC-8 (Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Dragon Whales); USS Nimitz (CVN 68)
Service Location: Red Sea; Baghdad, Iraq; Whiting Field, Milton, Florida; Persian Gulf; San Diego, California; Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan
Rank: Captain
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Though she had planned to go into the Peace Corps after college, in 1986, Captain Elisa Raney jumped at the chance to become a pilot after a campus recruiter explained that the Navy admitted female flyers. Aviation Officer Candidate School pushed her to her limits, but she endured, telling herself that, barring injury, her instructors couldn't make her quit. This attitude of perseverance would serve her well not only in training, but throughout her career as a helicopter pilot during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as well as serving on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and as the Deputy Commander of the Defense Contract Management Agency Iraq. She also challenged the expectations of and limitations placed on her as a female Navy pilot; she spent one eight-month deployment as the only woman on detachment with the ship.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (83 min.)
»Transcript
  Photos
»Photo Album  (2 photos)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Intending to join the Peace Corps; persuaded to join Navy by campus recruiter. (01:03) Training for Aviation Officer Candidate School before she actually started; training more vigorously than the Marines with whom she trained. (01:08) Deciding she just wouldn’t quit; the camaraderie of her AOCS class. (01:28)
Deciding to fly helicopters; joining one of the few units where women were fully integrated; memories of her first night flight; longest flight was over 13 hours. (03:57) Helicopter crash involving a female colleague; wound up serving as the only woman on detachment to the USS Seattle. (04:45) Rewarding tour working on an aircraft carrier. (02:50)
Spending six months in Iraq as the Deputy Commander of DCMA. (05:10) Surviving a helicopter crash during her first deployment to the Red Sea; helicopter drooped; hitting the water; thinking of a friend who had recently drowned; finally making it to the surface. (09:55) 
  
 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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