Letters from the Front! By Lt. Col. Rose Englebert, USAF

By Lt. Col. Rose Englebert, USAF

Lt. Col. Rose Englebert with her dad Ignacio Mata at Lt. Col. Promotion party, April 2017.

I grew up in South Bay – the daughter of Mexican immigrants who worked tirelessly on Florida’s farms. As the oldest of four daughters, my parents expected a lot of me. My dad was especially hard on me. I felt I could do nothing right in his eyes. I remember one summer when I was 15 – my dad made me work in the fields picking tomatoes and cucumbers. I wanted to quit, but my dad wouldn’t allow it. All it took was one hard summer for me to realize why he made me and my sister work there.

The fields represented our family’s past, I would NOT let them be my family’s future. Fast forward to 1989 when I joined the Air Force on January 31st. At 18, I left everything I knew. A few months later, I was a member of the Security Police. As the only female Airman on a 63-man flight in North Dakota – I was completely overwhelmed. I felt like I went from “jail to hell.” For me, growing up was “jail” because I never went to a party, never had sleepovers, never went anywhere alone – you get the picture. The Security Police was now my “hell” because I was the only girl in a boys’ ONLY club. I worked hard to prove my proficiency and earn my peers’ respect as an equal. Like the field that summer when I was 15 – it was the hardest thing I had done in my life up until then; but, I never gave up. I would not let my dad down.

Lt. Col. Rose Englebert and husband, Lance, at Air Force Birthday banquet, 2017.

Eventually, I was able to leave “hell” and moved to Turkey where I met Lance which started my next chapter – “love”. Lance was an Air Force cop too, so he understood my “hell”. We married soon after and had a daughter. The “family” chapter took us to San Antonio via Montana. The Air Force selected both of us to be instructors at the Security Forces Academy, a very competitive assignment.

While an instructor, I was promoted twice and completed two associate degrees and a bachelor’s degree. My boss suggested I become an officer through a one-year ROTC program. I was reluctant at first because I wanted to mentor women in the Security Forces, a career field that was still not diverse. Once my boss explained that my span of influence would be much greater as an officer, I agreed to apply and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in May 2002. Soon after, Lance and I went through some hard times.

Lt. Col. Rose Englebert in Honduras, 1992.

Despite parting ways, I did not give up and we found our way back to each other. The “family” chapter is where my professional story starts and ends. Family is why I will retire on May 1, 2020, as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 30 years of service to the Air Force and to our nation. I’ve heard when you know it is time to retire, you know. These things I also know: – My family has supported and loved me throughout my journey. – I know strong women – leaders who show me how important it is to stay true to yourself. – I’ve helped pave the way for women and I’ve made a difference. -We’ve come a long way but, we’re not close to done.