Step by painful step, Culpeper resident Ellen McCarthy served faithfully in the U.S. Air Force half-a-century ago.

Fifty years to the month after joining the military, the disabled veteran reflected on her service for Women’s History Month in an interview with Hero’s Bridge, a Warrenton nonprofit serving senior citizen veterans.

McCarthy was the first female born to her family in a full century, due on St. Patrick’s Day. She arrived a day later into a family of service and recently celebrated her 70th birthday. An injury early in her military career has stayed with her all these years.

McCarthy joined the Air Force in March 1973, at age 20 under the delayed enlistment program. It was a natural choice since both of her parents were veterans. Her father was a sergeant in the Marines during WWII and her mother was a 2nd Lt. Army Nurse stationed at Walter Reed Hospital, as a private nurse to General John Pershing in 1945.

“I needed to get away from home,” McCarthy said in a visit Thursday with the Star-Exponent. “I joined to have a new life.” Read the full article.