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Honoring women’s legacy of service

Employees at the Port of Seattle represent the communities we serve, including many men and women who have served in the military. The feature stories of the women below are excellent examples of how employees with diverse cultural backgrounds, ethnicity and world view enrich the culture of inclusion at the Port.

Military duty instills lessons of leadership

Danielle Malosh took to leadership early on. As a 23-year-old second lieutenant, she was responsible for a platoon of U.S. Army soldiers in southern Iraq that protected forward operating bases in Al Kut and Diwaniyah. “I had to fill several roles— including social worker and counselor—and I always put them first,” she said. “The military teaches you how take care of your people.”

They trained together for seven months before deployment. “To lead them, I had to earn their respect by showing I was able to do all the things they had to do. We worked out each morning, carried loads, ran and did physical fitness trials,” she said. In Iraq their job was to monitor radar images round the clock for rockets or mortars, and send alerts if one was approaching.

The attack on New York’s World Center on 9/11 led her to join the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at the University of Portland, where she also served in the Oregon National Guard. Once she graduated as a commissioned officer, she was off to the Army’s Air Defense Artillery School, with a focus on short-range air and missile defense systems. She was one of the first women to pursue training in these systems at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). While there, she became the first female line platoon leader in her unit, the job that would take her to Iraq.

Following her tour of duty in the Middle East, she was stationed at Fort Lewis doing planning and operations management, and while there was promoted to the rank of captain. During this time she was invited to speak at the West Point Battlefield Leadership Summit in 2011, and was the lead planner for the 2012 Warrior Forge event at JBLM, the largest annual training event in the country that year with more than 11,000 participants.

When Malosh separated from active duty, she joined the Washington National Guard to train officer candidates, worked as a volunteer firefighter, and soon landed a six-month position in the Port of Seattle’s Human Resources and Development department through the Veterans Fellowship Program.

Her sense of responsibility for others carries over into her current job as supervisor of security personnel at Sea-Tac Airport. “I make sure they feel appreciated, and have what they need to do their jobs—whether it is supplies, equipment, training, administrative support, or whatever else.” In this case, her “people” are the ones who routinely staff airfield checkpoint gates, and monitor doors and fence lines to assure the airport is secure and complies with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Airport job is a happy landing for Navy veteran 

Even though the stripes she paints at Sea-Tac Airport are as perfect as they can be, Debra Eastburn isn’t afraid to color outside the lines when it comes to adventure.
Eastburn is a paint striper in the Port of Seattle’s Aviation Maintenance Department. She is part of the crew that paints markings on the airfield, in the garage and on the drives and other paved areas. She learned about striping as a teen-ager, helping her father who worked for a private striping company. “I liked to be outside earning money for getting dirty and playing in the street,” she laughed.
She describes her younger self as very adventurous, with a dream more about the open sea than airplanes or airports. “I picked the U.S. Navy as my way to see the world,” she said. “I always wanted to be on a ship because I liked the idea of being on the water.”
At age 19 Eastburn found herself in boot camp. She remembers the intense physical and mental conditioning, the strict discipline, attention to detail and the camaraderie.
Her first ship assignment was the submarine tender USS Hunley (AS-31) for sea trials, where she learned firefighting skills, and photography, photo processing and printing. She had found a niche, and went on to Navy photography school before her next assignment aboard the submarine tender USS Dixon (AS 37). The Dixon was where Eastburn spent the rest of her time in the Navy, sailing to far-away ports, experiencing other cultures and satisfying her dream of being at sea. She visited Guam, Singapore, Penang (Malaysia), Bali, Hong Kong and Bahrain, and was in Persian Gulf during Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
Once her active duty was complete, she served in the Navy Reserves for a year as part of Seabee Battalion, Sand Point, and began her transition back to civilian employment.
After trying various jobs, she saw an opening as a paint striper at Sea-Tac in 2012, and jumped at the chance. “I had worked as a contractor for the Port, and the crew here always seemed positive,” she said. “Now I am doing what I love and working with great people. Plus there are training options and opportunities like the Women in Trades Show and skilled trades career days for high school students.”
Although it wasn’t exactly a straight line to get where she is today, Eastburn is happy where she landed, and grounded by her military experience which, she said, left her with feelings of “pride and honor that I will have for a lifetime.” 

Iraq duty pays off in life experience and education 

Isabel Hernandez doesn’t shrink from the front lines—whether in following her current pursuits as Port of Seattle switchboard operator and college student, or her two tours of duty in Iraq.
Her direction in life was sparked by a drive for a college education. “A second generation Mexican American growing up in rural Texas with six siblings, I knew if I was going to college, I had to find a way to pay for it. The U.S. Army offered me educational benefits for my service, so that, in large part, is why I enlisted at age 19,” she said.
Following basic and advanced initial training, she became part of the Army Signal Corps. At her first duty station, she was the only female in her platoon—where soldiers honed physical stamina, survival and technical skills, teamwork and problem solving in preparation for deployments. “Before the orders came, I was nervous about the unknown, but knew I would be with my platoon and that this is what we trained for,” she said.
The first deployment for Hernandez was to Camp Speicher, Tikrit, in northern Iraq. There, she supported and trained combat engineers to use the navigational and communication equipment in their Humvees, and installed and replaced battlefield communications equipment and radio systems. Her second deployment was with Operation Iraqi Freedom at Camp Basra, southern Iraq, supporting and maintaining radio transmission equipment, and training other soldiers to do the same.
Then, as her military career was winding down, Hernandez’ focus turned to finding a civilian job. “The Army has a great program to help soldiers transition out of the military, and I was able to find this position at the Port through some of the resources the Army provided. I often tell people it was fate,” she said.
As voice communications operator for the Port’s Information and Communications Technology Department, she uses some of the skills she learned in the Signal Corps, but also has her eye on a career in marketing. By using her Army education benefits, she is well on her way to a bachelor’s degree in business management, marketing and sales communication. She expects to graduate from Phoenix University next year.
“It has been an awesome journey from the military to being part of an organization like the Port. The Army set me up for success, but I lacked college and real-time job experience,” she said. “The Port and my department did so much for my development, but once I complete my degree, I hope my career direction will dig more into my creative and people skills.”