- Associated Press - Sunday, August 16, 2015

BOONSBORO, Md. (AP) - Boonsboro High School graduate Lisa Reaux is about to make U.S. military history.

The 26-year-old petty officer second class recently was chosen as one of the first female enlisted sailors to undergo training to serve on a submarine.

If she successfully completes the yearlong preparation, Reaux will be assigned to the USS Michigan, an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine based in Bangor, Wash.

“It’s going to be in the history books - that’s what everyone keeps telling me,” she said.

Reaux jumped at the chance to be one of the first female enlisted submariners when she found out about the opportunity in January.

Kevin Copeland, a Navy spokesman, said in an email that 38 of the 113 applicants were selected to attend the course.

“Selection was the result of outstanding professional performance and willingness to contribute in setting a new course for women in the Navy,” he said. “Also, these selections are a key milestone in the continued integration of women into the Submarine Force.”

The sailors must have a submarine duty physical completed and approved by an undersea medical officer, Copeland said.

After they pass the physical, each selectee will transfer to Basic Enlisted Submarine School, or BESS, at Navy Submarine Base in New London, Conn., to begin training.

He said the sailors can expect to leave their current duty stations from as early as the fall of 2015 to as late as the spring of 2016.

“BESS is a six-week introduction to the basic theory, construction and operation of nuclear powered submarines,” Copeland said. “In preparation for assignment in the Submarine Force, sailors receive instruction on shipboard organization, submarine safety and escape procedures.”

He said the selectees are not the first female sailors to be welcomed to submarine service. There are currently 39 nuclear-trained female officers and 16 female supply officers serving on 16 crews aboard nine submarines, Copeland said.

Reaux said she graduated from Boonsboro High School in 2006 and attended Hood College in Frederick, Md.

She dropped out after two years to take care of an ailing family member, Reaux said. When things got better at home, she joined the Navy to earn money to finish school.

Reaux said she plans to become an officer and enter medical school to study psychology.

In the meantime, Reaux said she will continue maintaining and operating missile systems in her current job as a fire controlman.

She will soon leave her home in San Diego and drive across country to start training in Connecticut in early October, Reaux said.

Reaux said she accepts the challenge and doesn’t believe she will have a hard time adjusting to a profession dominated by men.

“I grew up with two brothers, so I should be able to handle it,” Reaux said. “That’s one of the reason I applied. I’m one of the guys.”


Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., https://www.herald-mail.com

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