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Col. Susan Sowers
Col. Susan Sowers ()

At the beginning of her Army career, there was one overriding question then-lieutenant Susan Sowers said people wanted to know: “What is Lt. Sowers doing at night?”

The curiosity about her private life, the rumors — “She’s doing these guys and she’s doing those guys” — and the hostility from a male officer’s wife who suspected Sowers of romancing her husband while deployed never bothered her too much, although she was aware of them and knew that male officers did not engender such speculation.

“I didn’t worry about it too much because I knew it wasn’t true,” said Sowers, sitting in her office on Camp Anaconda. “It was just sort of background noise.”

For the record, Sowers says now, often what she was doing at night was this: “I’m having a beer while I’m polishing my boots.”

In fact, Sowers said, dating, romance and finding a suitable mate wasn’t that high on her agenda.

“I really didn’t even notice I wasn’t married until I was a major,” Sowers said. “And I looked at all my friends and they all had children.”

Sowers, 46, instead poured herself into interesting work and has sought to learn what she could from good and bad situations. Sowers was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and although it was a bad year, she said, it was also a “growing year.”

“I learned a lot about uncertainty,” she said. “People had fears … The generals — they were in over their heads. There was a lot of confusion.”

Sowers attended West Point along with Halstead. Both her father and a grandfather also attended, and Sowers grew up at different Army postings throughout the world.

She chose transportation as her field, she said, because it was one of the few fields where women can do every job.

“Transportation seemed like the infantry for chicks to me,” she said.

Sowers has enjoyed her career but is leaving the Army for a higher calling.

In December, she will be working full time on getting a master’s of divinity degree to pursue her second career as an Episcopal priest.

She says her last Army posting in Iraq is a great way to finish. “I’m learning a lot about life and people,” she said.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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