Inside the Gates: Soldier becomes first woman to serve in Alaska Army National Guard Infantry

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 6:27 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Sgt. Serita Unin is a one-of-a-kind soldier in the Alaska Army National Guard.

She’s a fire team leader with Bison Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, and the first woman to achieve that designation in the Alaska Army National Guard.

“No, I never imagined myself where I’d be today,” Unin said.

“I realized this is bigger than myself. It gives other females an opportunity to go infantry,” she continued. “Because it’s not just about me getting promoted, it’s giving other females a chance to do what they want to do.”

Women have been allowed to fly combat missions for nearly 30 years. However, they have only been allowed to serve on the front lines on the ground since 2015 when former President Barack Obama lifted the ban.

Unin, who is Cup’ik, has come a long way from her Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps days at Bethel High School.

“I loved the discipline, the team cohesion, the motivation, the determination that was brought on to us,” Unin said.

Her military career did not end there. She enlisted in the National Guard in 2009.

“I was in the Maintenance Company, and I was working on generators and trucks like that,” Unin said. “And I thought that was okay.”

But she wanted more. Unin didn’t have to look far for it.

“I’d seen the infantry units doing amazing stuff with their awesome, cool gear, and I thought that was cool,” she said.

So did her commanding officer, who eventually helped convince Unin to apply. She completed her infantry training in February.

“It’s physically hard, it’s physically demanding,” Unin said as she described the training. “Imagine a female dragging a 200-pound male across the field to get them into safety. That’s very heavy.”

Unin hopes to see others like her in the infantry.

She offered words of encouragement to other women who want to serve their nation in a way they could not until the last few years.

“Go for it,” she said.

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