ABOARD THE USS ENTERPRISE — The four-day attack on Iraq marked the first time that American female pilots dropped bombs in a combat situation.
Navy Lt. Kendra Williams, 26, was the first of a group of female pilots to participate in the strikes. She flew her F/A-18 fighter-bomber as part of the attack force launched from the aircraft carrier Enterprise in the Persian Gulf.
There are 16 female aviators on the aircraft carrier.
Williams, who was raised in Anchorage, Alaska, was among the first group of women allowed to train for fighter duty, military officials said. She graduated from jet training at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas, in 1997.
"Women have only been in combat aviation a few years," she said last year. "It's going to take time for people to adjust."
Women have been flying in combat missions over Bosnia and in the "no-fly" zones over southern Iraq for several years, and they have flown in U.S. military helicopters since 1973. This is the first time that women have dropped bombs in an attack mission, Navy officials said.
Women are banned from ground combat in infantry, artillery or tank units.