But from the beginning, she didn’t quite fit in. The majority of women joined the WAF for clerical or nursing positions. Not Cox. “We’ve never had a woman score so high on the mechanical test,” the recruiter told her. So instead of going to the secretary pool, she learned to operate a printing press at the prairie outpost of Grand Forks, North Dakota. One evening, while hanging out in the women-only barracks, her good friend Peggy McCormick handed her an advertisement for a job called explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). Cox had never heard of it, but the page said EOD was short volunteers and paid an extra $55 a month.
“Bet you won’t do that,” McCormick said. All she knew was that EOD was dangerous and somehow involved bombs.
“Bet I will!” Cox said.
“I dare ya,” McCormick said.
That’s all it took. The nation created its first female bomb technician on a dare.
Cox was done printing newspapers. She would make it through EOD School, survive the ridicule of narrow-minded officers and the unwanted attention of journalists and the women’s liberation movement. She broke every glass ceiling in Air Force EOD: first to lead her own unit, first to go to war, first to be awarded a Bronze Star, first to hold the highest enlisted rank of chief master sergeant.