By Don Branum
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
Guardswomen with the Vermont National Guard showcased military uniforms and equipment while holding a virtual book reading event for children at a local day care center March 18 as part of Women’s History Month.
Army Staff Sgt. Trisha Emmons, a human resources NCO with Garrison Support Command’s Medical Readiness Detachment, set up the event in conjunction with Duffy Jamieson, the state equal employment manager, and Megan Henry, the director for Reach for the Stars Childcare and Preschool in Essex Junction.
“It’s a much smaller scale than I originally anticipated, but given the restrictions from COVID, I’ll take it,” she said.
Author Michael Ferrari read a passage from his book, “Born to Fly” for the audience of preschoolers and showed off a World War II-era flight cap that he bought while writing the novel. The story is set in Rhode Island during World War II and follows 11-year-old Bird as she makes a Japanese-American friend and uncovers a spy. He said he came up with the idea for the book while visiting a P-40 Warhawk aircraft display in Geneseo, New York.
“I saw a girl climbing on the wing of the plane who said she wanted to fly it, and her brother saying she couldn’t because she was a girl,” recalled Ferrari, who has known Jamieson for a number of years. “So I wanted to tell that story and let her fly her plane.”
The children called the reading “really fun” and “cool,” Henry said. One of the children asked how to fly an airplane. The consensus was: carefully, and with lots of training.
Ferrari wasn’t the only one in the presentation with a helmet, however. Army Staff Sgt. Shannon Haskell, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief with C Co., 3-126th Aviation Air Ambulance, brought the helmet and gear she uses when she flies. One of the preschoolers asked whether the Black Hawks are flown with a steering wheel, and Haskell explained that the helicopter is controlled using a pair of sticks to control speed and attitude.
“The helmet was a hit,” Henry said.
Emmons dropped off several signed copies of “Born to Fly” for the preschool. Several other Guardswomen also took part in the event, showing off various Air Force and Army uniforms. Emmons was dressed in her Army Blue Service Uniform. Air Force Master Sgt. Mary Jane Palumbo, the aviation resource management superintendent for the 158th Operations Group, wore her Air Force Service Dress Uniform. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Megan Passamoni, a human resources technician for Headquarters, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), wore her Army Combat Uniform. Senior Airman Yainna Hall wore her ACU as well. Finally, Army Staff Sgt. Samantha Fontaine wore her Army physical training uniform.
Emmons said the event was designed to honor the theme of Women’s History Month: Honoring the past to secure the future.
“We wanted to show them that women can do whatever we set our minds to,” Emmons said. “These kids are our future, so the theme definitely fits.”