TULSA, Okla. — In the 70s women in the military were a fairly new concept.
Many enlisted as nurses but one woman dared to be different and chose another route.
Enlisting in the army in 1975, Debbie Paschal said she never planned on joining but she wanted an adventure. Growing up in Parsons, Kansas, she said military life wasn't a foreign idea — her dad fought in the Korean War, even being awarded a purple heart. But Paschal's path would be different.
“I went to Fort McClellan, Alabama for my basic training. Then I was stationed in Ft. Gordon, Georgia for my advanced training and it was in teletype at the time but it was tactical so we’d go out in the field and camp out and use our tactical equipment to send teletypes from our vans to a radio station that would transmit our information," said Paschal.
During her two years of training, Paschal met her then husband, who ended up taking them back to Kansas. When she got pregnant, she decided to take a break from her military career to raise her son.
“Back then it was hard for a woman to stay in the service and have children. You had to have almost a guardian for her children before you could stay in," said Paschal.
But after a ten year break, Paschal knew she needed to return, this time, she joined the Oklahoma National Guard.
"I was with the 145th Medical Unit out of Broken Arrow and through that they gave me training to do non-commissioned officer’s training and that training was up in Pryor. We would do it on the weekends and there was 80 other guys that were in there, I was the only female in the class and I graduated fifth in the class," said Paschal.
After two years in the National Guard, she said she accomplished what she wanted, serving four years in the military. And once she hung up her military hat, she decided to pursue another dream.
“I did take my GI Bill and go to college here in Tulsa and graduated with my Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting and then I went to work for Blue Cross for 33 years then retired," said Paschal.
Paschal said although her time in the service is over, it's never far from her mind because all three of her sons followed in her footsteps and enlisted as well. She said she is proud of the life she's lived and what she was able to accomplish during her time in the service. She said this Veteran's Day, thank a veteran for their service and for fighting for our freedoms.
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