Our fathers are brothers and we could not have grown up more different. We rarely saw each other, but when we did, there was a deep connection, because we knew that the blood running through our veins was the same. Always a ball of joy, and ready to record all of life’s moments via her iPhone, Shaunita has always been that cousin I loved, but really didn’t know that well. I just loved that she was my cousin. During my grandmother’s recent transition and receiving her heavenly wings, Shaunita and I spoke and texted each other to keep each strong during such a trying time. I got to know her a little bit more, and she, me. Shaunita’s daughter is trained to produce music, my son loves to make music as a hobby. Isn’t that ironic?
What started out as a text message to 14 of our family members to share the news of her winning an award, more specifically she was selected 2017 SNCO (Senior Non-commissioned Officer) of the Year for AFRC A1K. I was intrigued by this information and decided that I wanted to learn more so that I could write about it. I had a feeling that this was something big. After exchanging a few more text messages, Shaunita and I decided that we’d talk on the phone so that she could shed more light on her unique military accomplishments.
After 19 years in the Airforce, she really had not shared many of her career highlights with her extended family in the DC area, including me. Knowing this and knowing there are untold stories, I was on the edge of my seat wondering what kind of stories she kept to herself. Was there going to be a movie made 10 years from now about Shaunita? What has she experienced and why in the world would she think that no one would care about her accomplishments?
She’s humble. She didn’t want the spotlight, so she kept the stories and accomplishments to herself, well only sharing them with her immediate family. She didn’t think that she was “prominent” enough in the family or that anyone would care. When in reality, her career and accomplishments make her one of the most accomplished family members of our generation. It’s time for her to share some of her extraordinary stories as the rest is still being written.
During our conversation, I learned that my cousin, MSgt Bolden, while stationed in Colorado Springs in 2008, would be a part of US Military History as one of the original “Plank Holders” during the re-activation of a former Bomber unit now performing Space duties.
On March 15, 1942, the 380th BS (Bomber Squadron) was founded by a cadre of the Doolittle Raiders who first flew in Africa. Flying the B-25 Mitchell, the squadron fought from North Africa to Southern Europe.
For her great contributions to the standing-up and re-activation of the 380th SPCS (Space Control Squadron), Shaunita was unanimously selected to take a flight on the world’s only airworthy B-25H Mitchell named “Barbie III” around the city and over the U.S. Air Force Academy.
While this is a great story in its self, the biggest part of this African-American woman’s Military History has yet to be told. With a few more years left to serve, we will save the best part of this story for last. “Stay Tuned”