Mobile, Ala. — Women have made great strides in the military in the last two decades. But in the late 1970’s it was uncommon for women to be involved in some of the toughest training they had to offer.
Then Barbara Porter came along. Then, before marriage, Barbara David became a trailblazer. She was one of the first women to graduate from the Army’s tough infantry course at Ft. Benning. From there, she went to Officer Candidate School, graduating as a Second Lieutenant.
“It was the first integrated company of males and females, and so we did everything that the men did,” said Porter. Of the 79 women who signed up for that first integrated O.C.S., 7 graduated. Then, Barbara and another woman volunteered for the Army’s tough Airborne School.
“It was very physically demanding but it was an accomplishment that I’m proud of, but it’s also an accomplishment of I don’t know how I did it,” she said.
How tough was it? Barbara said she weighed only about 105 pounds at the time, but she had to carry gear that weighed 110 pounds.
“Which meant I couldn’t stand up straight, and because of that the Colonel didn’t know if I would have enough power to jump, so he had me run to the end of the Quonset hut and back with that backpack–of course I was bent over and I was doing little bitty steps and I did it back and forth and he said, eh, just let her go ahead.”
Porter went on to spend ten years in the Army, becoming a Military Police officer. She spent a year in Korea and retired a Captain. She also became a nurse along the way and continues working in the career today.