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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project


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Barbara A. Wolfe Kucharczyk of Florida served in the USAF from 1976 to 1998.


The Kucharczyk Papers primarily contains uniform accessories and souvenirs from Barbara Kucharczyk's time of service in the U.S. Air Force. Also included are photographs, printed materials, and records relating to her military career.

The oral history documents Kucharczyk's childhood in a military family, her education at UNCG, her graduate studies at New York University, and her brief career in teaching. It primarily details her military career, including Officer Training School; her tours in Japan, Germany, and Korea; the Education with Industry Program; her duties and activities while stationed stateside at Shaw Air Force Base, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College; and gender discrimination in the air force.

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Barbara A. Wolfe Kucharczyk was born in Kearney, Nebraska, to an air force family, and raised in various places while her father was in service: California, Florida, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, as well as Germany and Okinawa. She graduated from high school in Massachusetts and went on to attend The University of North Carolina in Greensboro from 1966 to 1970, receiving her bachelor’s degree in physical education.

In January of 1971, Kucharczyk moved to Newport News, Virginia, where she worked in the Hampton School District as a physical education teacher and a track, tennis, and gymnastics coach. In order to become sex education teacher, Kucharczyk enrolled in New York University's graduate program in human sexuality, and moved to New Jersey in 1974 to complete her master's degree. That year she was hired in Leonia, New Jersey, as a health teacher and softball coach.

Kucharczyk enlisted in the USAF in New Jersey in 1976. From June to September of ‘77, she attended Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and then was sent to Chanute Air Force Base in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, for the six month Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course. In 1978, she was sent to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, with the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing, where she served as a maintenance unit officer, avionics branch chief, and job controller, in addion to temporary duty assignments to Korea and the Philippines. While in Japan, she married a fellow aircraft maintenance officer. She and her husband then applied to be assigned together and in 1981 were sent to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where she worked on flight lines and on the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Inspector General’s team, for several years.

In 1984, Kucharczyk was assigned to the Air Force's Education with Industry Program and was stationed Fort Worth, Texas, to monitor procedures at General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) and learn about the defense industry. During this time, she and her husband divorced. After completing the ten-month program, she was sent to Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, where she was a maintenance supervisor for a year. She was then transferred to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina where she worked for five years, during which time she was promoted to major and became Equipment Maintenance Squadron commander.

In March of 1990, Kucharczyk testified before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Women in Combat to open more military career fields to women. In June of that year she was sent to Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama, where she attended Air Command Staff College. After completing the program, she became responsible for leadership and command curriculum for the base and for the international seminar program. Though this position she was able to travel to Spain and Germany, performing seminars. With her promotion to lieutenant colonel, she attended the Air War College at Maxwell-Gunter. Afterwards she became director of education and research for the Air Force Quality Institute. She spent two years in this position before being transferred to Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, where she served as squadron commander.

In 1998, Kucharczyk was accepted for promotion to colonel. To accept the promotion, she was required to transfer to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. She wished to spend time with her family, however, and declined the offer, retiring from the USAF after twenty-one and a half years of service. Kucharczyk remained in Texas and worked as a teacher’s aide for high school students with learning disabilities.

Six USAF squadron commanders, 1997
Item # WV0277.6.008
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers
Barbara Kucharczyk, circa 1998
Item # WV0277.6.009
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers
Portrait of Barbara W. Kucharczyk, 1977
Item # WV0277.6.005
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers
Portrait of Barbara W. Kucharczyk, 1992
Item # WV0277.6.007
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers
Barbara W. Kucharczyk on base, circa 1980
Item # WV0277.6.006
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers
Oral history interview with Barbara Wolfe Kucharczyk, 2003
Item # WV0277.5.001
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers
Barbara W. Kucharczyk with serviceman and child, 1978
Item # WV0277.6.001
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers
Barbara W. Kucharczyk receiving award, circa 1977
Item # WV0277.6.002
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers
Barbara W. Kucharczyk receiving award, circa 1978
Item # WV0277.6.004
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers
Barbara W. Kucharczyk in an airplane cockpit, circa 1980
Item # WV0277.6.003
From the Barbara W. Kucharczyk Papers