Air Force Major General reflects on BGSU, career

Maj. Gen. Anita Gallentine visits Air Force ROTC

Air Force Major General reflects on BGSU, career

When she was a young girl in Lima, Maj. Gen. Anita Gallentine would watch the planes fly overhead and dream of seeing the world as a flight attendant. Joining the Air Force ROTC never entered her mind until orientation day at BGSU in 1973.

"The ROTC was giving a briefing and my dad, who served in World War II and Korea, convinced me to go and listen to what they had to say, " Gallentine explained. "The Air Force detachment had a relationship with an airfield in Michigan that would fly cadets to Colorado and Florida occasionally. I decided that didn't sound so bad. One year went into two, and then a lifetime."

Gallentine, who lives in Florida, was back on campus Aug. 28 for the first time since she graduated in 1977 with a degree in public relations. She met with President Mary Ellen Mazey and other administrators, and spoke to BGSU's Air Force ROTC cadets.

Not only did her time in BGSU's ROTC shape her career, it also molded her character. "The friends I hung out with on campus were not in ROTC, so I was kidded a lot. It was in the '70s, you put the uniform on and it was like 'here comes the geek.' I guess it made me a little tougher, to try not to wear my emotions on my sleeve. It made me believe in myself a bit more. It made me stand a little straighter, dress a little sharper, but not be unapproachable, more outgoing. "

Life for female commissioned officers in the 1970s was challenging, especially for women entering the munitions field, which had just opened to them.

"I struggled a bit at first with where I fit in. I would be with the officers, but sometimes I'd want to be with the spouses at their social events. I couldn't, though, because I wasn't a military spouse."

While talking to the cadets, Gallentine stressed the importance of mentors in the military, asked them to keep an open mind about opportunities they're presented and implored them to "seek additional responsibilities and do more than you're assigned; every job teaches you something.

"I joined ROTC for two reasons - to please my parents and because it was something different. Same with munitions, nuclear weapons - I know nothing about that; I'm a PR person. But it was my first block of success. I was thrust into a career that didn't have women in it and it was interesting. Success builds on different things you've done in life and it started out at ROTC. Everything has been built on that."

Gallentine's career has taken her from Alaska to the Pentagon. And as she prepares to retire Nov. 1 after 36 years in the Air Force, she says she will always be proud she wore a uniform.

"I got the brass ring - two of them. Hopefully I've been able to embody and show the public that you can serve the military, the community and your family and do all three well."