Woman Gunner Helps Protect Security Detachment
By Spc. Courtney Marulli
2nd Brigade Combat Team
2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq, March 1, 2007 — Women throughout history have faced many barriers such as not being able to vote, get a secondary education, hold a government position or work in combat arms. But with time, many of these restrictions have crumbled because women are willing to go the extra mile.
One such woman is Pfc. Evelyn Williams of Temple Hills, Md., the only woman in the Personal Security Detachment for the command group of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
Her role isn't one of support, but rather one of combat, as Williams is a 7.62 mm machine gun operator. This role isn't something that surprised Williams, as she would have been a gunner if she had stayed with her military police company.
She sits in the turret of the lead vehicle and takes her position seriously. She must keep a sharp eye for snipers, grenade attacks, suicide bombers, and improvised explosive devices.
"Basically, I feel if something happened, I would be responsible because I am the eyes for all the vehicles," Williams said.
Even though she keeps a sharp eye and had safe ventures into sector, Williams still gets nervous when she goes on a mission because she knows it's her responsibility to keep everyone safe.
"If I don't see an IED or call it and it hits another vehicle, I would feel responsible," she said.
If her eye catches even the smallest thing that seems suspicious, she calls down to her noncommissioned officers, because it may be something serious. With the
abundance of litter and debris lining the sides of the roads
and alley ways, Williams said it can be difficult to notice a serious threat from regular garbage.
She is grateful for the support she has received from her team.
Fellow soldiers took her in as one of their own, Williams said. She hasn't had any problems being the only woman, and was accepted immediately.
"I enjoy being the only female," she said. "If I hear 'only female,' I feel special."
Although, Williams is manning a deadly weapon, going out of the wire also appeals to her softer side.
Seeing Iraqi youth while on patrol is her favorite part of leaving the wire, which she does on an almost daily basis. She also enjoys seeing the Iraqi people do their part to help such as clearing paths or helping direct people to the sides so the vehicles can go through.
Joining the Army was something Williams always wanted to do and choosing her job was natural, as she wanted to be a police officer in the civilian world. In college, she was taking college courses in criminal justice and passed the test to become a police officer.
However, she was required to wait six months while background checks were conducted, and that was just too long a wait, so she joined the Army.
Her desire to be in law enforcement stems from her desire to help children, stop domestic abuse, and combat drugs. She is also passionate about stopping people from drinking and driving.
Williams, who has been in the Army for 13 months, enjoys her work but looks forward to returning to her husband and two children.
"I have kids," she said. "They need me."