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“This was the start of my Wonder Woman years.” (Memoir, page 4)

   Agnes Helen Gomez Patterson
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Agnes Gomez Patterson at her teletype machine, Larson AFB, Washington [1951]
War: Cold War
Branch: Air Force
Unit: 62nd Communications Squadron
Service Location: Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming; Donaldson Air Force Base, South Carolina; Larson Air Force Base, Washington
Rank: Airman First Class
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Agnes Gomez Patterson enlisted in the Air Force in 1950, armed with her birth certificate, high school diploma, and five dollars. Though she had hoped to join the Marine Corps, her small stature prompted a recruiter to suggest an alternate branch. When she arrived at Lackland Air Force Base outside of San Antonio, Texas, for basic training, she found she was the only Mexican-American within her 150- woman squadron. Serving as a teletype operator with the 62nd Communications Squadron from 1950 to 1952, she also participated in base activities such as softball, basketball, and bowling, which helped boost her confidence and communication skills. Though she separated from the military in 1952, she went on to work as a civilian for the Air Force and the Navy, and as a volunteer for the Red Cross. As she wrote in her memoir, following her time in the military, “I found my voice, and now it was hard to stop me.”

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (3 clips)
»Complete Interview 
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»Photo Album  (17 photos)
»Memoirs of Agnes H. Gomez
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
Mother suggested she join military; family background; brothers in military; enlisting in the Air Force. (03:59) Journey to Texas; seeing segregated facilities; being shocked by overt racism. (00:58) Spent less than a year in Greenville SC; had a tough time with racial bias; incident in which she offered seat to pregnant woman and was thrown off bus; segregation in churches. (03:12)

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  October 26, 2011
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