Nancy J. Dickson, MSGT, USAF. Retired
By RUBY O. WOODS-ROBINSON, M.S.L.S.
Nancy J. Dickson, retired MSgt, USAF, had an interesting career; she was among the first women in the Air Force to do many jobs. As you read about her career you may want to take your hat off to her. Nancy was born in Pennsylvania and her family moved to Michigan where she graduated from Eau Claire High School. She was one of ten siblings and the only one to join the military. After graduation, she worked at several jobs before deciding to go into the Army, which was offering women two year enlistments. In July 1961 she became a WAC and went to basic training at Ft McClellan, Alabama. After basic training she went to clerical school at Ft. McClellan and then was assigned to Ft Jackson, South Carolina where she worked in personnel until her enlistment was up.
After leaving the Army in 1963, two months later, she enlisted in the Air Force and went to Travis Air Force Base, California, where she stayed for four years working at the Military Airlift Command as a clerk in the training office. She applied for recruiting and went to school at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. After completing Recruiting School she was assigned to Nashville, Tennessee where her primary job was interviewing and writing recommendations for the women that wanted to go into the Women’s Air Force (WAF).
After leaving Recruiting, she was assigned to Chanute AFB, IL where she worked in personnel. When she saw the notice that women were being sent to Thailand and the Air Force was asking for volunteers, she immediately put her name in for the assignment.
During the Vietnam War, about 80% of all USAF air strikes over North Vietnam originated from air bases in Thailand. At its peak in 1969 a greater number of Airmen were serving in Thailand than were serving in South Vietnam.
Under Thailand's "gentleman's agreement" with the U.S., the bases were considered Royal Thai Air Force bases and were commanded by Thai officers. Thai air police controlled access to the bases; U.S. air police that helped them did carry guns. Command of the American units, however, remained with U.S. wing commanders and their Seventh Air Force/Thirteenth Air Force headquarters.
A few months after Nancy applied for Thailand, she was assigned to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base and this was her first oversees duty. She worked in Combat Operations, at that time, 1970; the Vietnam War was not over and the base she was stationed at flew F105 combat missions.
When her year was up in Thailand, she returned to the states and went to Plattsburg AFB, NY where she worked in base administration. Once again she put in for another oversees assignment and in 1971, went to Wiesbaden, Germany. While in Germany she took advantage of every opportunity to go around Europe. In 1974, she left Germany and was assigned to Lackland AFB, TX, as a Military Training Instructor in the 3709 Basic Training Squadron. She was an instructor for two years, and then took over the squadron’s orderly room as the Chief Clerk. While at Lackland AFB she had the opportunity to be one of the first women to go to the Air Training Command (ATC) Non Commissioned Officer Academy, until that time the academy was opened to only male NCOs.
While at Lackland AFB, she put in for another overseas assignment and went back to Wiesbaden, Germany in 1977. She returned to the states in 1979, for her last assignment, Gunter AFS, AL, where she worked in the computer center for the Air Force until her retirement in 1984.
After retirement she took advantage of the GI Bill and completed her B.S in Business and then went on to get a Masters in Human Resources. In 2011 she moved to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, MS. Where she is enjoying retired life.
She enjoys reading and doing some writing. In the past she has made costumes for plays. Nancy enjoys traveling and has been on several cruises.
Nancy States, “I ENJOY my life not doing anything”.