On April 1, 2007, FLETC employee Gail E. Owens, secretary
for the Forensics Investigative Technologies Division (FIT), was advanced to
Master Chief Yeoman (also know as Master Chief Petty Officer or MCPO) in the
United States Coast Guard Reserves.
The Coast Guard Reserve strength is currently approximately
at 8100 members nation wide. It is
mandated by law that only 1% will be Master Chief Petty Officers. There are currently 91 MCPOs serving in the
Coast Guard Reserve and of those, only six are women.
Gail currently is assigned to Sector Jacksonville Admin,
located in Mayport, FL, and supervises a staff of 3-6 Yeoman that handle pay
and administrative matters and other issues as they arise She normally drills once a month and goes on
active duty for two to six weeks per year.
Gail’s military career spans over twenty-five years and
includes nearly five years of active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1970 to
1975. During her U.S. Navy enlistment,
she advanced from E-1 to E-5 in about two and a half years. During that time, she was told that there
were only about 3000 women in the Navy.
She was assigned the rating of Personnelman. Her duty stations included Bainbridge. MD; Orlando, FL; New Port,
RI; Patuxent River, MD;
and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), in Belgium. It was while she was stationed at Patuxent River, MD
that she met and married her husband, Dennis M. Owens, Sr., a First Class Petty
Gail stayed at home with their children for the next twelve
years, until after her husband retired from the Navy and they settled in Hollywood, MD. Gail wanted to finish her military career and
the U. S. Coast Guard offered her the best opportunities so she enlisted as a
Yeoman Second Class (YN2, E-5) in December of 1986. Her drill sites included St.
Inigoes, MD; St. Simons Island,
GA; Charleston, SC;
and Group Mayport, Mayport,
FL (which reorganized and is now
know as Sector Jacksonville at the same location). She had temporary assignments to Coast Guard
Headquarters, Washington, DC; Reserve Component National Security Course Staff
in the Washington, DC area and Maxwell Air Force Base in AL: Baltimore, MD;
Alameda, CA; Petaluma, CA; and Anchorage, AK.
She was recalled to FL for active duty for Operations Desert
Shield/Storm in 1991. Following the
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks she was again recalled from 2003 –
2005. She was involved as
support/planning staff for the G-8 held in the Brunswick,
GA, area in 2004 and the Supper Bowl in Jacksonville, FL,
in 2005. She was more recently recalled
to active duty for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to St. Louis,
MO, and New
Women have served with distinction with the various agencies
(i.e. Lighthouse Service) that combined over the years to become the United
States Coast Guard (the oldest continuous sea service in the United States serving since August
1790). It was not until November 1942
that Congress enacted Public Law 733, which established the Women’s Reserve in
the U.S. Coast Guard. The Women were
called SPARs (taken from the Coast Guard motto, Semper Paratus – Always
Ready). This act was terminated in July
of 1947; however, the Coast Guard Reserve was reestablished in 1949. In 1962, Pearl Faurie was the first SPAR to
be advanced to E-9. The total Reserve
strength peaked during the Vietnam War to nearly 18,000 members. (The Coast Guard has served in every armed
conflict that the United
States has been involved in.) After Desert Shield/Storm the size of the
Reserves were reduced to below 8000.
Gail’s personal Coast Guard Awards include two Commandant’s
Letters of Commendation; a Coast Guard Achievement Medal; a Joint Services
Achievement Medal; a Joint Service Commendation Medal; and an Armed Forces
Gail humbly states, “I owe most of my success to the work of
my fellow reservists and those that mentored me. Without the support of these dedicated
service people, I would not have been advanced to Master Chief Petty Officer.”
Gail and her husband, Dennis, reside in Brunswick, GA. Their grown children reside in Huntington, WV;
Lawrenceville, Lilburn and Brunswick,
GA. They have three grandchildren.