Women Veterans Honored in High Desert
By Eliz Dowdy, Staff Writer
The Victor Valley Women’s Club Executive Board members made the decision to honor women veterans in the local area. The annual Veterans Parade was canceled due to the pandemic.
The Victor Valley Women’s Club has hosted two fall meetings in the tent of a restaurant. On November 17, they started arriving at 8:15 am to get everything set up for the meeting where the veterans would be introduced and honored for their service.
The office of First District Supervisor, Robert Lovingood, was contacted to provide certificates of appreciation to the women, they provided beautiful plaques, and the Town of Apple Valley provided colorful certificates of appreciation, framed certificates also were given by the Women’s Club.
The women veterans honored were: MSgt. (ret) Cynthia Bullard, who served a total of thirty-three years with the U. S. Air Force, active and reserve duty. Service locations included Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, TX; Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, FL; Incirlik Air force Base in Adana, Turkey. Bullard completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal justice and studied one year in law school while in service. Her last duty station was George Air Force Base.
Veteran DeBorah Collins-Harris began her military career in 1975 in the Women’s Army Corps, she was in the integration process that changed the WAC department into full military duty stations that were also detached into combat situations, prior to the integration of the units, women did not serve in combat areas, and had their own separate barracks and duties
DeBorah, a native Angeleno, attended West Los Angeles College in Culver City, and transferred to California State University, Dominquez Hills prior to enlisting in the Armed Forces. She served in Seoul, South Korea; Schofield Barracks in Hawaii; and the last duty station was Fort Irwin. After separation from active duty she worked as a civilian employee in Child Development, she retired in 2019, serving a total of forty-one years with the military.
Lt. (ret) Margaret Levell completed nursing school in North Carolina, her home state in 1961 and joined the Air Force, receiving basic training at Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama. After completion, she was transferred to George Air Force Base, although she left active duty in 1963, she continued working as a civilian employee at George hospital for sixteen years. Then feeling the urge to return to work, she worked in a dermatologist’s office for twenty years.
Tech Sergeant Evita Yniguez-De La Cruz, is an Iraq War veteran, and Gold Star wife. In 2013, her husband, SGT James De La Cruz would take his life due to PTSD issues, leaving her with two young children to raise. She founded the Veteran Suicide Awareness Project to bring awareness to suicide and PTSD. Evita is stationed at 452nd aeromedical staging facility at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside. Where she works as a medic. She trains new medics in the skills needed to sustain a field hospital, and teaches combat first aid to members who are deploying. She is Commander of American Legion Post 725, and has been named veteran of the year for the Elks Lodge 1877.
Former PFC, Elizabeth Dowdy, (nee Coleman), joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in 1958, following in the steps of her father, SFC Eddie Coleman, who had been a Buffalo Soldier. Dowdy received basic training at Fort McClellan, AL; and advanced Basic at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, TX. She separated from active duty at Fort Lawton, WA. She traveled with her career service husband until his death in the Republic of Vietnam in 1968. Dowdy has worked as a medic, journalist and entrepreneur.
Rounding out the festivities was the Master of Ceremonies, Lt. Col. Tony Marshall, who attended the United States Air Force Academy, graduating in 1968 as a 2nd Lt. He was deployed to the combat arena as a navigator; the aircraft flew too low and was shot down by enemy fire. After parachuting from the aircraft he was knocked unconscious by the landing, and awakened to find he was surrounded by AK 47’s all pointed at him. He remained in captivity as a prisoner of war from July 3, 1972 to March 29, 1973. He remained in service and flew combat missions as an F-4 jet fighter pilot. Marshall was selected as veteran of the week by First District Supervisor, Robert Lovingood’s office, and also received a proclamation from the Town of Apple Valley.
All of the women married and merged parenting with duty in the armed forces.
The Victor Valley Women’s Club was founded in 1925 to assist the communities. They provide scholarships for nursing students at Victor Valley Community College; assist the Salvation Army with their Santa to Senior program; assist Moses House Ministry, A Better Way Domestic Violence Prevention; Conservation projects-reforesting the San Bernardino mountains; the International Heifer Project providing calves to needy families in food challenged areas; Alpha Connections, providing assistance to troubled youth; and Rock’n Our Disabilities, a new project.
This was the first time they have honored veterans, it was on the hearts of President, Peggy Moore, and recording Secretary, Eliz Dowdy, who stated women veterans get kicked to the curb. They were able to shine light on these forgotten warriors that are continuing to impact their communities through acts of kindness.