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SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton

Trailblazers: Sabrina Bonnette

Retired chief petty officer, U.S. Navy

Posted online

Dec. 26, 1989 – the day after Christmas, Sabrina Bonnette enlisted in the U.S. Navy. It was also the beginning of Operation Desert Shield.

By 1990, she completed basic training and was first stationed as personnel support at Francisco Naval Air Station Alameda in California, where she deployed and managed reserves.

Bonnette moved bases to New Orleans and was ultimately promoted to chief petty officer before retiring in 2013 after 25 years.

“I feel very independent because of it,” she says, noting it was a stable career to provide well for herself and two daughters.

Today, Bonnette serves as a disabled veterans representative with the Missouri Department of Economic Development, first vice commander of Women Veterans of Southwest Missouri American Legion Post 1214 and a volunteer with the National Organization for Women and other organizations.

Her advice for success and inclusion for both military and civilian women is simple: Work hard and walk tall.

“You have to do equal work,” she says. “There are exceptional women who are tougher and can make it through.”

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