LAUGHLIN — Pam Walker became the first woman Commander at the Laughlin American Legion Post 60. The term, which began July 1, is for two years. She replaces Terry Tinnel, who previously held the position.
As for being the first woman, Walker couldn’t care less, and is more focused on the role.
“I really wish our society could get away from that when we elect people to leadership roles,” she said. “It should simply be based on your accountability and qualifications.”
Walker grew up in California and joined the Air Force in 1973 right out of high school. She served 21 years and has been on every continent.
She began her Air Force career as a crew chief working on airplanes. During that time, Walker became one of the first women crew chiefs in Korea and worked as a crew chief for famed aviator Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to exceed the speed of sound.
She also was one of the first women selected to fly, and has logged more than 12,000 flight hours.
To say she loved airplanes is an understatement.
“I don’t know why anyone would go into the Air Force to not work on or fly planes,” she said.
However, health issues forced Walker to quit flying and she retired.
She said she saw the military as a path to opportunity and took it.
“At that time women were held back,” Walker said. “Women were not encouraged to go to college and my family couldn’t afford it anyway. I saw the military as an option.”
Walker holds two masters degrees from Webster University and encourages students to think of the military as an option.
After the Air Force, Walker worked as a training manager for NASA at the Dryden Flight Research Center in Lancaster, California.
She now resides in Laughlin and been in the area since 2012. Walker has been on the Laughlin Town Advisory Board for 21⁄2 years and has been an active volunteer in the community.
As commander of the local American Legion post, Walker ensures member events happen and agrees to support the post’s constitution and bylaws. For being in the role for just only a week, she already has a few things planned.
“We are intending to add a bathroom on the outside (of the Legion post) and have a family night where people can bring their kids to be involved and see Legion members in action,” Walker said. “We also focus on helping our veterans in any way that we can.”
Other officers listed are 1st Vice Commander Novelt Mack; 2nd Vice Commander Roger Reiner; Adjutant Teresa Higgins; and Executive Board Members Scott Anderson, Tony Del Torto, Patricia Walker, Larry Higgins and Gerry Flanagan.
The Laughlin American Legion currently boasts 337 members.