—photo submitted by Margie McKinney
Margie McKinney, right, worked as a payroll specialist for the U.S. Air Force for 14 years. At the time, women mostly worked in offices and as nurses.
By Chris Wilcox Tribune-Courier News Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org When Margie McKinney, 60, of Draffenville, first began serving in the Air Force in 1971 women didn’t work alongside men on the battlefield, but McKinney never wanted to do that – she joined to serve her country in any way she could. McKinney decided to join the Air Force by chance after taking a high school trip to the Bahamas. She said while in the airport awaiting her flight she saw recruitment posters seeking women in the Air Force. She and a friend decided to investigate what each branch of the armed forces had to offer and she chose the Air Force. McKinney completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in San Antonio, Tex., focusing on drilling and marching at a time in the military when women were primarily trained to serve in support positions, rather than in combat. Following basic, McKinney was sent to the Sheppard AFB in Wichita County, Tex., for technical training in accounting and finance, which led to her career as a payroll specialist. “Women worked in the offices and as nurses,” she said. “I didn’t mind and following my training I was stationed at the Carswell Air Force Base in Texas. I spent quite a bit of my military life in Texas.” While she enjoyed her work in the states, McKinney said the highlight of her career was when she was stationed in Germany. “From 1974 to 1977 I was stationed in Germany,” she said. “I got married at Carswell in 1972 and my husband Ronald Warner and I traveled together while we were overseas.” Warner was a Chief Master Sgt. in the Air Force at Carswell, and although the two are no longer married, following their return to the U.S. from Germany several years later they had a son, Leon Warner, in 1984. Immediately following a tour in Germany, McKinney was stationed at the Bergstrum AFB located southeast of Austin, Tex., and then she was transfered to the Little Rock AFB in Jacksonville, Ariz., where she had her son. Shortly after the birth of her son McKinney received orders she would be leaving for Korea for a year by herself, and although she said she loved her career immensely she couldn’t leave her baby. “I wasn’t sure I’d be able to have a child and then I did and I knew I couldn’t leave,” she said. “I had to go through a lot of paperwork, but I was eventually discharged.” McKinney moved from the AFB back to western Kentucky and began working at the Benton Post Office where she worked for 23 years. She retired in January. “I was with the Air Force for 14 years and after I got out I still dreamt that I was in it,” she said. “Once you’ve been a part in it it becomes a part of who you are and I’m so proud to have done it.” She said the community support was outstanding in Marshall County when it came to respecting veterans and honoring soldiers. “Serving in the armed forces is something anyone can do and be proud of,” she said. “I would encourage everyone to join some branch of the armed forces. It teaches you to grow up, responsibility, camaraderie, loyalty, respect – all the things that help you with civilian life because others can see those qualities that you’ve learned.” McKinney serves actively as treasurer of the American Legion William A. Doyle Post 236 in Calvert City, and is part of the Honor and Color guards. Military roots run deep in McKinney’s family. Her father served in WWII and her two older brothers were drafted during the Vietnam War. McKinney said she followed in their footsteps and now so does her son who serves in the army. “The country needs a great and strong military and we’ve got a lot of good people in it,” she said. “We go about our daily lives and sometimes we forget about those serving us and our country. We always need to remember.” Veterans Day
Services Veterans Day is on Monday, Nov. 11, and a ceremony honoring those who have served will take place on that day at 11 a.m. at Mike Miller Park in Draffenville. Ky Supreme Court Justice and Vietname veteran Bill Cunningham will speak at the event.