Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Comfortable in uniform.(Personalities)

Byline: John J. Lumpkin Journal Staff Writer

Col. Jan Eakle, the new wing commander at Kirtland Air Force Base, says she always knew the military life was for her

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE Col. Jan "Denny" Eakle grew up intending to follow her father by joining the Navy and becoming a carrier pilot.

"I never remember in my entire life not thinking I would wear a uniform," said Kirtland's newly installed wing commander.

Rules against women combat pilots, now reversed, coupled with less-than-perfect eyesight, ruined her chances for an aviation career. Then her father steered her to the Air Force instead of his own Navy.

"My father did not think the Navy was a good place for women," Eakle, 47, said. "In that era, the Navy wasn't."

An eclectic base

A woman commander at Kirtland is nothing new Eakle is the third woman to hold the position. She replaced Col. Polly Peyer, who went to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., where she will be director of propulsion at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center.

Eakle, meanwhile, is inheriting one of the more eclectic military bases in the country, one where the largest tenant, Sandia National Laboratories, isn't part of the military but the Department of Energy. …

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