DUBOIS – From the World War II era to modern day, the role of “Women in Service” was explored during the DuBois Area Historical Society’s eighth annual luncheon held at the DuBois Senior Center. The program was a part of the society’s celebration of Women’s History Month.
Ltc. Karen Aravich, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, was the featured speaker concerning “Women’s Role in Today’s Military.” Her presentation focused on the many hats that a woman must wear to be successful in the modern military. She highlighted her career, challenges faced by a woman in the military during her early enlistment and raising a family while active in the armed forces.
Aravich enlisted into the U.S. Air Force in 1974 as a jet engine mechanic, becoming one of the few women to enter this field. She reached the rank of E-6 and was selected for a direct commission and attended Officer Candidate School.
She earned an Associate of Science degree in aerospace control systems from Community College of the Air Force, a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Delaware University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Wilmington College.
She also graduated from the Air Command and Staff College and Air War College. She is trained as an accident investigator for both aircraft and engine accidents.
She was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force in 1986 and served in Dover, Del., San Antonio, Texas and with the 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh. Her final assignment was at the Pentagon, serving as chief of aerospace vehicle migration planning in the Weapons Systems Division.
During her service, Aravich earned the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaves, the Air Force Commendation Medal with four oak leaves, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with a Bronze Star Device, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device and the Silver Hour Glass, Overseas Service Ribbon and Meritorious Unit Commendation. She was selected as the Women in Aviation “Against All Odds” recipient and she received a scholarship to the prestigious Pratt and Whitney Jet Engine School.
Now employed at the DuBois Veterans Affairs Clinic, she lives in DuBois with her husband, Ltc. Donald Aravich, who is also retired from the U.S. Air Force, and their four children.
The World War II era was focused upon by three performers who recalled the experiences of three DuBois area natives: Nancy Rosman as a World War II U.S. Army nurse, Suzanne Luchuck; Sue Meholick as missionary, Sarah Johnston; and Sharon Folmar as a World War II Women’s Army Corp member, Lt. Loyola Sullivan.
Gene Aravich wrote all of the parts from research completed by DuBois Area Historical Society President Ruth Gregori. Dave Clark recruited the performers from the Reitz Theatre.
Helping to continue the World War II atmosphere was Andrews Sisters music. DuBois Area High School freshmen Lindsey Hewitt, Katelyn Long and Sam Vida, accompanied to the luncheon by choral director Brennan Bell, performed as the sisters. They sang “You Are My Sunshine” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
Gregori provided the welcome and closing remarks. DuBois Area Historical Society Historian Todd Thompson gave the blessing before the lunch.
For a second consecutive year, the luncheon attracted more than 80 people. Eighty-five attended this year’s luncheon, which was just below the 2013 attendance total of 88 people.