Northwest Veteran is a history-maker

Laura Scott was the first woman to eliminate terrorists during an Air Force training simulation.

Reagan King, Writer

Master Sergeant and BVNW para since 2016 Laura Scott made history after she was the first woman to volunteer and succeed in performing security during a terrorist exercise at the end of a two-week field training for the Air Force in 2007. For the exercise, meant to simulate being deployed in a war zone, she said her unit set up a hospital to practice treating patients under those conditions. 

“Everybody felt like they were actually in a war,” Scott said. “It was an exercise that felt real.”

While others shied away from guarding the hospital, Scott said she stepped up to take on the job.

“Nobody wanted to do that security job, and I didn’t want to do it, but I just thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway, so I may as well,” Scott said.

During the exercise, Scott said she could hear other people creeping around in the woods, making it intense. 

“I’d been in foxholes before, and heard guys over the radio start crying or want to be replaced,” Scott said.

After hearing another guard shot with blanks by the terrorists, Scott said she ambushed and shot the two terrorists, becoming the first woman to ever achieve this during the training exercise.

“I was really proud and the people that put on the exercise made a huge deal [out of it],” Scott said. “I heard them yelling, ‘Where’s that female? Where’s that female?’ And I’m standing there with my M16 [rifle] that I’ve just shot a bunch of blanks with. I thought, ‘oh God, do I hide? Did I do something wrong?’ But after I realized what they were yelling about, it felt good.”

Scott was in the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard from 1979 to 2008, serving a total of 29 years. She first joined the unit at Richard Gabauer in Belton, MO., then later joined the National Guard in St. Joseph, MO. 

After graduating college, Scott said she had a job as a social worker when a recruiter convinced her to join the Air Force.

“He kept trying to get me to join and I kept putting him off and he said, ‘if you join today you can be on this trip to Hawaii this weekend,’” Scott said. “I said, ‘I’ll be out in 20 minutes.’ I wanted to travel, and I was poor. I didn’t have any other way to do it.”

While serving, Scott said she had a variety of roles, but largely focused on her role as the supervisor of a dental clinic that did exams and oral surgery when deployed.

“In the mountains of Guatemala, we set up a couple of different hospitals out of an old school and an abandoned building, and we treated people [who] lived in the mountains and lined up before dawn to get treatment,” Scott said.

When people heard there was medical treatment available, Scott said people formed lines as long as her unit could see.

“We would go down and try to talk to people and find out who needed to be at the front,” Scott said. “The first patient that we saw when we went to Guatemala was a little baby with meningitis, and I really feel like we saved her life.”

Scott said she wanted to experience everything, so whenever volunteers were needed for different jobs, she would always offer to help.

“I went to Katrina and when [we] got off work, instead of going back to the tent, I volunteered at a horse rescue ranch and went with a group to find dogs and cats that were abandoned,” Scott said.

According to Scott, her greatest achievement while serving was proving that anybody can do anything if they put their mind to it. 

“My daughter asked me, ‘what do you think is the most memorable thing that you did?’ And I thought, ‘I think I’ve saved a few lives but I was able to do what no other girl had ever done before,’” Scott said. “I felt like I’d really accomplished something for women.”