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The NYC Veterans Oral History Project: Pansy Santiago-Siler
September 26, 2013
Pansy Santiago-Siler served in the United States Air Force from 1979 to 1992. She was previously working as a teacher at a public school, which she felt was such a disorganized environment, she may as well join the military. During her service, she was stationed in Washington, Puerto Rico, Germany, and Alabama. Her time in Puerto Rico was especially dangerous, as the Air Force was not well-received. Personnel were requested to not wear their uniforms off the base for their safety. Ms. Santiago-Siler did not give in to the fear she felt during this time, and says matter-of-factly, one “just did it.” She also feels that joining the Air Force gave her great exposure to other cultures and ways of life, and if one does not leave the United States, they become “an ugly American.”
Interview Audio Log:
- 3:02 - Previously worked as a teacher.
- 4:30 - Drove across the country to her base in Washington state.
- 7:15 - Deployed to Puerto Rico as a Spanish teacher
- 8:46 - Hazardous duty, not allowed to wear the uniform off the base.
- 10:18 - Found bomb in Air Force vehicle, did not detonate.
- 11:27 - Had to tell women they were not the right shape to be pilots.
- 16:15 - Felt women worked twice as hard for half the credit.
- 18:49 - Deployed to Germany to be with her husband.
- 19:57 - Worked as a tech officer of a civil engineering group.
- 20:41 - Rebuilt the Ramstein Air Base.
- 21:50 - Had a child in Germany.
- 22:44 - Lived a few towns away from the base with a German family.
- 24:24 - Was stationed next in Alabama.
- 25:30 - Felt the south was an uncomfortable place to be.
- 26:40 - Had good healthcare during her pregnancy in Germany, not the same quality in Alabama.
- 31:56 - Hard to translate military experience to the civilian world, tough to explain to employers you could do "anything."
- 32:24 - Public doesn't understand what it means to be a veteran.
- 37:04 - Likes explaining her military service to people.
- 40:29 - Felt like kissing the ground when she returned from Germany
- 40:48 - 1 US TV channel in Germany, could watch US sports games in the middle of the night.