(Extensions of Remarks - March 03, 2016)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E277-E278]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                      HON. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM

                             of new mexico

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, March 3, 2016

  Ms. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, I rise today 
to honor Lieutenant Colonel Cindi Feldwisch, a champion of women's 
rights who served her country with distinction as one of the ``First 
Five'' women in the United States Air Force Honor Guard (USAFHG).
  When Lt. Col. Feldwisch entered uniformed service in 1975, women did 
not serve in the USAFHG. This elite ceremonial unit in the United 
States Air Force (USAF) is charged with representing the USAF at all 
public and official ceremonies in the National Capital Region. These 
ceremonies include funerals for deceased USAF personnel, occasions for 
visiting dignitaries and military officials, wreath-laying at the Tomb 
of the Unknowns, and White House arrival ceremonies. In 1973, the 
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs had issued a 
memorandum instructing the USAF to incorporate women into the USAFHG.
  In 1976 a new training program began with the intention of 
integrating women into the USAFHG. Lt. Col. Feldwisch and four comrades 
defied expectations and, in the words of their commanding officer, 
Captain Marcel Mayer, ``they not only survived the training, they 
excelled.'' On July 15, 1976, Lt. Col. Feldwisch along with Teresa 
Brown, Margaret Jones, Madelyn Ritz, and Elizabeth Root graduated and 
became the first female members of the USAFHG. Collectively, they are 
known in the USAFHG as the ``First Five.''
  Nevertheless, the First Five still endured discrimination and sexism. 
For example, the First Five were not initially allowed to carry M-1 
rifles in ceremonies because of a ban prohibiting women from 
participating in combat. It would have been easy to accept this second 
rate status, but Lt. Col. Feldwisch and the other female members of 
USAFHG refused. In 1977 they penned a letter to First Lady, Rosalynn 
Carter, who issued a statement in their support. By January 1978, there 
was a change in policy allowing women to participate in all ceremonies 
with their M-1s.
  Lt. Col. Feldwisch went on to serve four years of active duty in the 
USAFHG. After receiving her Bachelor of Science at the University of 
Northern Colorado, she returned to duty as an enlisted member of the 
Colorado Air National Guard, earning her commission as a Second 
Lieutenant, in 1991. She has risen through the ranks, and in 2006 she 
became a

[[Page E278]]

Lieutenant Colonel. From November 2000-October 2003, Lt. Col. Feldwisch 
served three years of active duty at the Air Force Safety Center in 
Kirtland, New Mexico. From July-October 2004, she deployed overseas and 
served in Baghdad. Currently, Lt. Col. Feldwisch is the Executive 
Officer for the Assistant Adjutant General, Joint Force Headquarters, 
New Mexico National Guard, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
  Col. Feldwisch is a highly decorated officer and has received 
numerous awards and decorations for her service to her country. These 
include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation 
Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement 
Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism 
Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the 
United Nations Medal.
  Our military has undertaken tremendous advancements since Lt. Col. 
Feldwisch entered the USAFHG. Indeed, women can now serve alongside men 
in combat, something that was hard to imagine when Lt. Col. Feldwisch 
entered the service. She was influential in expanding women's rights in 
the military and has paved the way for future generations of women to 
serve their country with distinction.
  Lt. Col. Feldwisch and the other members of the First Five who 
bravely entered the USAFHG in 1976 are role models for all women and 
girls. Lt. Col. Feldwisch demonstrated that nothing is impossible so 
long as you are not willing to take no for an answer. For this and her 
years of service I honor her today.