WASHINGTON -- Through the course of liberating Iraq, female Soldiers have conducted air missions, kicked down doors, disarmed mines and shed their own blood. Sixteen female Soldiers have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
When 19-year-old Pfc. Rachel Bosveld found out that she was going to Iraq she said, Dad I get to go, not I have to go, her father, Marvin Bosveld, recounted from Wisconsin. She was proud and excited about going to battle for her country.
Bosveld was a military police officer with the 527th MP Company out of Giessen, Germany. She narrowly escaped death Sept. 12, when her Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade when her team came under fire. She sent her brother, Craig Bosveld, an e-mail describing the event.
It was loud, there was shouting, my team leaders seat was on fire. I found my seatbelt, but it was stuck. Okay, the door. Open the door. Just my luck, a 400-pound door is stuck. First the seatbelt now this. More shouting. Seems so far away, like a voice at the end of a tunnel. Got to get the door open or were going to die.
Bosveld escaped that ambush with a few bruises and stiff muscles, but was killed Oct. 26, in a mortar attack on the Baghdad Police Station.
A violinist and soccer player in high school, Bosveld didnt take a backseat to any one, Marvin said. She would say, I love arresting these Iraqi men because I know how they treat their women.
In October 1994 The Risk Rule, which was used to determine which assignments should be closed to women was rescinded, and that made 91 percent of the career fields gender neutral, according to officials from the Office of the Chief of Personnel, G1. That amendment to assignments policy and others like it allowed women like Bosveld and Capt. Kimberly Hampton to get closer to the action, G1 officials said.
Hampton was killed when her OH-58 Kiowa Warrior observation helicopter was attacked near the Iraqi town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad. She was a company commander with 1st Battalion, 82nd Aviation Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Hampton supported infantry Soldiers by providing fire support and observing ground action. She was the divisions first company commander to die in the war on terror.
She loved being a Soldier. She didnt consider herself a female Soldier, but a pilot serving her country, who just happened to be a female, said Ann Hampton, Kimberlys mother. She was an only child, and as a parent you just want your child to be happy.
I miss her though, its a physical pain going on without her. Knowing that there wont be a wedding or grandchildren. Our lives revolved around Kimberly, Ann said as she took a break from packing up Kimberlys Fayetteville home. Im terribly sad and empty, but there are 550-some other families who are going through the same grief.
Daughters, wives and mothers are vying for adventure and the chance to serve their country at increasing rates. My Kimmie joined the Army because she wanted to do something exciting. So it wasnt surprising when she told me that she was going to be working as an EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) specialist, said Carol Fahnestock, the mother of Staff Sgt. Kimberly Voelz.
Voelz of the 703rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, Fort Knox, Ky., died in her husbands arm in Baghdad from her injuries after an improvised explosive device detonated before she could disarm it.
Voelz and her husband, Max, were both staff sergeants serving in Iraq as EOD specialists. I always knew in the back of my mind that she had a dangerous job, but she never really talked about it, Fahnestock said. I never worried about her because when its your time God will call you home, no matter where you are.
Before Kimmie died Fahnestock said she knows her daughter saved countless lives. She excelled at her job, her mother said. She was a team leader and trained a lot of Soldiers under her, she added.
Women can do anything men can do, Fahnestock said. Kimmie held her own, and wanted to retire from the military.
Fahnestock said Voelz had re-enlisted a month before her death, and was going to be stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., only hours from her hometown. It would have been the first time in seven years that we would have lived near each other, Fahnestock said. Now Im looking forward to helping Max find a house, and hopefully hell let me help him decorate.