Mary (McHugh) Jones was born in Yonkers, NY, in 1951 and enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 25. Her father was a Navy Corpsman, who was attached to the Marines and fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima. Mary also had a brother who served in the Navy and another brother who was Captain in the National Guard.
"I learned to be independent ... disciplined ... to deal with being the only female in my crew."
Mary rose to the rank of Master Sergeant E7, working with Air Space Control at Norad Cheyenne Mountain while on active duty (1976-85). Her reserve command post was at Keesler Air Force Base, where she worked as a Tech School Instructor. She was involved with hurricane and national disaster relief, flying a C130 Hercules. Mary received Air Force Commendation Medals and an Oak Leaf Cluster.
When stationed in Iceland, she experienced very high winds and had to hold on to ropes to go from the dorms to base. While in basic training, she was recognized as an 'expert' shoe-polisher and was asked to show everyone how to shine their shoes properly. Only 10% of those in her career field where female; and Mary says, "I learned to be independent ... disciplined ... to deal with being the only female in my crew."