Space Force just welcomed its first female Native American intelligence officer.
Capt. Haida StarEagle, a 17-year-veteran of the Air Force, transferred into the fledgling service earlier this month, according to a news release. She hails from the 36th Intelligence Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, where she served as a flight commander of training. She will remain with the 36th until her new duty title and station are approved, the release states.
"Her commitment to her airmen is at a level I've never seen before," Master Sgt. Ryan Ritchey, the 36th's chief of training, said in the release. "While we are losing an amazing Captain, the Space Force is gaining one and we're just so proud of her."
StarEagle is from the Matinecock Tribe, an Algonquian people who call the north shore of Long Island, New York, home.
Her father, Chief Samuel Little Fox, the shaman of all 13 Long Island tribes, pinned the new occupational badge on StarEagle during her March 12 Space Force induction ceremony at Langley-Eustis.
"When I was born, during my naming ceremony, the shaman came back from his vision quest and told my father that I was destined for the stars," StarEagle, a Brooklyn native, said in the release. "My entire life has been focused toward the stars, and joining the Space Force puts me one step closer to following that dream."
The 36th is part of the 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group at the base. The group oversees kinetic and non-kinetic precision targeting; "weaponeering, collateral damage, and battle damage assessment training, tools and tactics;" and special operations ISR, according to an Air Combat Command factsheet. ACC is headquartered at Langley-Eustis.
The base wing public affairs office didn't immediately provide details into StarEagle's prior service when asked for comment.
"Captain StarEagle has the impressive combination of capability, superior intellect, drive and passion for serving," Lt. Col. Michael Hollingsworth, joint collection training division lead at U.S. Special Operations Command, added in the release. "Some people just have that 'it' factor, and I can tell you that the Space Force is gaining an absolutely phenomenal leader."
The Space Force said last fall that 2,400 members in "organic" space careers -- such as space operations and space systems operations -- were slated for transfer from the Air Force. StarEagle was chosen in December to change branches -- one of 3,600 additional members selected for transfer in common specialties, or jobs that fit both the Air Force and Space Force, including those in intelligence, cyber, acquisition and engineering.
The Space Force hopes to nearly triple in size by the end of 2021 to 6,400 members, top officials have said.
StarEagle said she's been motivated to represent the Matinecock tribe because the New York National Congressional Library keeps a record of its members.
"My father told me when I was younger that I must find my own way and figure out how to leave a legacy for our tribe," she said. "Joining the Space Force and continuing to serve is the best way to leave my mark within my tribe, create a legacy for my people, and make my father proud."
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.