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Couple spent careers in military together

Submitted photo Virginia Logan pins her husband’s wings to his uniform after he became an Air Force pilot. The two met when they were second lieutenants stationed at Laredo, Texas, and she was a radar officer.

KINSMAN — The first time Theodore Logan saw his future wife, she was surrounded by a group of fighter pilots at an air base in Texas.

Virginia Logan was one of few women in uniform when she joined the U.S. Air Force in 1969, and one of even fewer women officers. After earning a degree in math, she got a postcard in the mail seeking women recruits and decided to take up the chance for adventure. She left her home in Massachusetts, intending to return after a stint, but love had other plans.

Both Virginia and Ted were second lieutenants — she a radar officer and he a pilot — at the height of the Vietnam War. The Air Force wasn’t yet allowing women to become pilots, and by the time they were, Virginia had a baby and was a year too old for the training.

“So, it was never really an option for me,” Virginia said. But one of the couple’s daughters went on to become a pilot, flying for the Air Force and an airline.

Ted had joined ROTC in college a few years before while he studied business administration and economics. As he watched other young men swept off to the war in the draft, he was determined to serve his country in his own way.

“I liked the idea of being a pilot better than being drafted, so that’s why I stayed in school and got my degree first,” Ted said.

“Pilots had a much higher survival rate than the troops on the ground. Everybody always said, ‘The worst that could happen is you get shot down and then you’re down on the ground, where the Army and Marines started in the first place,'” Virginia said.

The couple met in December 1969, married in March 1970 and celebrated their 50th anniversary earlier this year. In order to get stationed together after they married, Virginia traded in her position to become an administrative officer. The two were stationed in Dover, Delaware.

Because Ted flew so many missions, moving equipment in and out of theater, taking in supplies and running medical trips, he had enough flight time to avoid being assigned a full tour in Vietnam, but he flew all around the world and several missions near and in Vietnam.

“About half our missions were through Europe. We went to Germany, England, Italy, Turkey. We went into Iran, back when we were friends with those guys. We went to places like Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. And we would fly into Southeast Asia, normally through Alaska. And then we would fly into Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines,” Ted said. “A couple of times after I landed, they asked if I took fire from a hill back there, but when you’re 4,000 or 5,000 feet up, they probably can’t hit you with small arms. But we were concerned, as it wore on, that they had handheld surface-to-air missiles. So, they had us flying continuously from 20,000 feet to pretty much straight down the flight path.”

It was a strange sensation going from sweltering, humid days in Asia, to the crunch of snow beneath his boots in Alaska, Ted said.

While Ted was flying missions, Virginia oversaw the integration of women airmen at the base, setting up barracks, arguing for private showers and new mattresses.

She had to battle the patriarchal attitudes many of the higher-ranking officers exhibited, often looking at the women through the lens of a father instead of a commanding officer.

“I had a lot of disagreements with those squadron commanders. The women were 18 years old, young enough to be their daughters, and sometimes they acted like that. The men didn’t know how to deal with these things. But later on, people got more used to having women around,” Virginia said.

Being a woman just as the Air Force was trying to be more inclusive had its ups, Virginia said. There were a lot of opportunities to be “the first” woman to do something, and many jobs were open to her because of that, although she contends her husband was more skilled at his job than she was at hers.

There was sexism, obvious at times and more subtle at others, she said.

“That was a man’s world. The attitude was, if you didn’t want to live in a man’s world, don’t join. So, you just accepted a lot of things that would be considered harassment or bad treatment nowadays,” Virginia said. “When I was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and that was late — I was eligible earlier — someone said something like, ‘I’m glad to see affirmative action is working.’ That made me mad. I earned that.”

Both had to turn down opportunities throughout their careers to make the best decisions for their families, but the two were happy taking the chances that allowed them to raise their children the way they wanted.

When the war wound down, the couple moved to Trumbull County, where Ted’s family’s farm is in Kinsman, and joined the Air Force Reserve. Virginia was a public information officer at the base in Vienna and oversaw public responses to a few plane crashes. The couple worked on restoring a farmhouse from the 1860s and started having children.

The part-time job worked well for the family, but when a full-time opportunity in Pittsburgh opened up for Ted, the couple decided to take advantage. Both joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and often commuted to the farm in Kinsman.

Virginia retired in 1997, Ted in 2001, and they moved back to the farmhouse in Kinsman. The couple, their son and other family members raise grass-fed beef for sale at the Stoddard Hayes Road farm, along with food-grade soybeans and corn.

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