by Airman 1st Class Alexander W. Riedel
Air Force News Service
3/8/2013 - Fort George G. Meade, Md. (AFNS) -- A
seasoned loadmaster assigned to special operations and a young security
forces Airmen, barely 21-years-of-age, have the distinction as the
first female Airmen to die during the Global War on Terror in Operations
Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom respectively.
Staff Sgt. Anissa Shero was deployed during the earliest stages of
Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. She was serving as an MC-130H
Combat Talon II loadmaster when her plane crashed shortly after
take-off, on June 12, 2002. She was assigned to the 16th Special
Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
The 31-year-old West Virginia native was a 10-year Air Force veteran who
had been awarded the Air Medal in 1996 and the Air Force Commendation
Medal, along with two Air Force Achievement Medals during 2001. She had
married Staff Sgt. Nathan Shero, a fellow air commando, on Sept. 1,
Anissa Shuttleworth Shero was born Oct. 5, 1970 in Grafton, WVa., the
daughter of Clyde Shuttleworth and the late Tammy Moats. She was born
into a military family, with grandfather James Shuttleworth, a veteran
of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, and her father, who lost
both legs during action in Vietnam.
Shero graduated from Grafton High School in 1988, and worked for a local
radio station while attending Fairmont State College. She enlisted in
the Air Force in 1992.
Slightly more than three years after the tragic death of Shero, on Sept.
28, 2005, a young security forces Airman became the first Air Force
female to die supporting the war in Iraq.
That day, Airman 1st Class Elizabeth N. Jacobson, a member of the 17th
Security Forces Squadon at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, and her
Army driver, lost their lives instantly when a roadside bomb detonated
near their vehicle.
Her death sent a shockwave through the service. Jacobson was only 21
years old, the security forces first member to die in combat operations
since 1975, and the first female Airman to die during Operation Iraqi
Before the fateful mission, Jacobson volunteered to accompany a convoy
on its routine mission, delivering supplies to a nearby camp. Instead of
staying behind and securing her base from the relative security of a
guard tower, she wanted to "pull her weight," and make it known that she
was part of the team. So only three months after arriving, she was
assigned the more dangerous duty 'outside the wire.'
Even the deployment to Iraq was assigned to the young Airman because she
volunteered to be part of a team of 13 Airman to deploy from Goodfellow
AFB, telling her unit leaders that it was "her time" to deploy.
Before joining the Air Force, the Riviera Beach, Fla., native attended
high school while living with her grandparents. She then decided to live
with her mother in Madera, Calif., only to return to Florida in search
After the 9/11 attacks, she made the decision that changed her life. In
2003, she joined the Air Force, launching her on a promising career in
military law enforcement in the Air Force security forces. After
completing security forces technical school, she was assigned to the
17th Security Forces Squadron, where she performed duties as an
installation entry controller and patrolman.
Jacobson envisioned herself rising to the rank of chief master sergeant,
but also dreamed of having a family, with two sons, after returning to
live in sunny Florida.
"Elizabeth liked being a troop and was so proud," said Elizabeth's
father in a conversation with then-Capt. Kevin Tuttle, who was the
military liaison to the Jacobson family. "She made the ultimate
sacrifice for our nation and the cause of freedom."
Her heroic and selfless dedication to her service were soon recognized
formally and Jacobson was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and
Purple Heart medals for her meritorious service while engaged with
opposing armed forces.
A memorial with a plaque featuring Jacobson's likeness etched on it,
reminds visitors and Airman at Goodfellow AFB of their fallen comrade's
sacrifice every time they enter through the same gate where Jacobson
once greeted base visitors as a guard.
Further, a training facility at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland,
Texas, an Air Force-level Award for Expeditionary Excellence, as well as
a street at a base in Southwest Asia, was named in her honor.
Jacobson has arguably become one of the most recognizable faces of
recent Air Force history and has taken her place among other Air Force
heroes on the pages of the Air Force's professional development guide.
For family and friends however, Jacobson is most remembered for her good
nature, smile and sense of enthusiasm. Even in a combat zone, she kept
her morale, jokingly writing in a letter that the "room service" in the
camp was terrible.
"What I think I will miss most about her is the way she could cheer you
up no matter what mood you were in," said then-Senior Airman Christopher
Bauer, a friend and fellow security forces member. "After she deployed,
she called me two or three times a month. She loved what she was
In her own words, Jacobson once shared her favorite quote with friends
online. "We're only on earth for a little while," she wrote. "So live
life to the fullest and carry a smile."