A female soldier has made history by becoming the first infantrywoman in Alaska National Guard.
Sergeant Serita Unin now serves with B Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment of the Alaskan Army National Guard. She is the first infantrywoman in the state and one of the few in the entire military.
A Cup’ik Eskimo from the Kashunamiut Tribe, Unin grew up in Bethel, Alaska. She first joined the National Guard in 2009. At the time, female troops were banned from serving in combat arms. It wasn’t until 2015 and President Barack Obama’s decision to lift the ban that women got the opportunity to serve in infantry and special operations units.
Unin’s initial military occupation specialty (MOS) was a Generator Mechanic (91D), a position in which she served for almost ten years. A few years after the lift of the ban, Unin’s leadership approached her with the idea of changing specialties and cross-training into the infantry.
At first, Unin was hesitant to make the jump.
“I got a call from my squad leader asking if I wanted to go infantry, and I thought ‘I don’t know,’ then I went to drill, and my unit told me I was going 11 Charlie (infantry mortarman), and I got to thinking, ‘it wouldn’t be a bad idea,’” Unin said in a press release.
But as a non-commissioned officer, Unin has a lot more on her plate than being the first female infantry troop in Alaska.
“At first it was amazing being the first female infantry soldier in the Alaska Guard, but then I realized that this was bigger than myself. I realized that me being an infantry NCO will give other females a chance to become infantry if they wanted,” she said.
“I have three Soldiers under me in my fire team. For me, being an NCO, it’s about taking care of the Soldiers and making sure they have everything they need. Being in the Guard, we’re only here a couple of days out of the month, so I have to ensure that my Soldiers have a good life outside the military as well, because if they’re not taken care of on the civilian side, they’re not going to be good in military life either. It’s really about the Soldiers’ welfare and ensuring they have everything they need to be successful all around.”
Last year, a female soldier made history by becoming the first to pass the modern version of the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC), don the coveted Green Beret, and serve in an operational unit. Since then, an additional female soldier has joined the Special Forces Regiment.
To be sure, women have been operating at the tip of the spear for decades. Certain tier 1 special operations units have long understood the utility and flexibility that women can offer.