FRANKFORT, Ky. - Army Maj. Angela White knew at a young age she wanted to wear a uniform and serve her country. So one day when she saw a Marine Corps recruiter at her high school in Montana, she walked up and said she wanted to enlist. The recruiter, she said, told her no.
Fast forward 25 years from that interaction with the Marine Corps recruiter and White was sworn in as a major and the second female chaplain in the Kentucky National Guard during an appointment ceremony here recently.
It has been more than 25 years since a female has served as a chaplain in the Kentucky Guard. A fact White said contributes to the idea that things happen for a reason.
"I was called to join the military," she said. "God has healed me in so many ways. God revealed to me my way, this is what I was meant to do. If you feel called by God, He will make a way for you. It's the truth. And Kentucky is a fine place to be as a woman in the chaplaincy."
White never understood why the Marines didn't even give her a chance. She would later walk to a recruiting station and into the Air Force office. After several years of service as a bomber mechanic, then an Army nurse, the adventurous mother of two began her next chapter in uniform.
"I was off on an adventure when I wanted to be a Marine, and it was exciting to work on big aircraft, and I've always cared about people, so that was the nursing step. Now I'm off on an adventure with people I care about," she said, trying to make sense of her own career steps, adding that the military life brings with it many challenges and opportunities.
White said the path to becoming a chaplain was one of those challenges, but credits her family's support as her driving force, recalling the constant encouragement she received from them.
"My husband is my biggest fan," she said. "My daughter would put little notes in my bagswhen I left for training that said 'Mommy, you're doing to do great!' I keep one of those in my wallet today."
White's husband - Air Force Lt. Col. Jamie White, a pilot with the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing - said he is proud of all that she has accomplished.
"She has accomplished a lot, she's always been on the edge in the military, never being afraid of a job, and she's been preparing for this for the past 25 years," said Lt. Col. White.
She will serve as chaplain for the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion in Burlington, Ky. Army Maj. Bill Draper, chaplain with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, said White is just who the Kentucky Guard needs to serve in such capacity.
"Chaplain Angie White's prior experience as an active duty enlisted Airman, Soldier and officer will help her build solid relationships with Soldiers and staff members alike," said Draper. "This will enable her to provide religious support that is both intentional and genuine."
Army Lt. Col. Yong Cho, state chaplain for the Kentucky Guard, swore White in during the ceremony and said it was a good day for the Guard. Cho also spoke of White's unique background and how it will help her in the future.
"All of the chaplains are happy for her and her family today, it has been a faithful road for her," said Cho. "Chaplain White's skills and military service will only enhance her ministry and she will bring diversity to the Chaplain Corps."
White said she is glad that she has accomplished her newest challenge and doesn't concern herself with the aspect of her position as first female chaplain in 25 years. Rather, she said her focus is on the way forward.
"I'm so excited today, it's finally here, to start this journey," she said. "But there are a lot of great female chaplains out there, maybe it just wasn't the right time here. It may be nice to hear that I'm the first in a long time, but this about being a chaplain, being part of a family and working with Soldiers."