Honor Their Service: ‘Distinctive Women of Service’ award

The United States was built on people fighting for freedom and the freedom of generations to come. We here at NewsCenter1 want to recognize those people and those who advocate for them here at home. This week’s segment of “Honor Their Service,” features two local servicewomen honored with the “Distinctive Women of Service” award.

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Two servicewomen are still reveling in recognition after being honored with the statewide Distinctive Women of Service award, given by the Girl Scouts.

The award is given to women in the service who display courage, confidence and character.

Eryn Schlotte (left) and Abigail Philbrick (right) both serve locally, one in the Army National Guard and the other with the Air Force. Earlier this month, both were honored as the Girl Scout Dakota Horizon’s Distinctive Women of Service for 2018.

“You don’t ever enroll or do these kind of things for any kind of recognition,” said Philbrick. “You do it because it’s what you love to do.”

Schlotte said, “I don’t know if there’s any words that you can put to it. I look back and it’s taken a lot of work, but I’m glad I did it.”

Philbrick has been in the Air Force for 13 years and has been stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base for eight of those years. For the past two years, she’s been teaching leadership to new airmen.

In her spare time, she leads kids in the 4-H program in Pennington County.


“I’m active in the 4-H program and the Pennington County shooting sports program, and I’ve watched that program grow over the last seven years from about 20 kids to over 250 kids,” said Philbrick.

Schlotte has been a National Guard member for three years and now juggles school at Black Hills State University with her work as a combat engineer. She is the first woman in the state of South Dakota to be in the role.

As a combat engineer, she is trained to clear buildings of explosives, oversee demolitions and other specialized tasks. It’s a job Schlotte was inspired to pursue after witnessing the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings.

“It was two days after when I got there, and I saw National Guardsmen outside some of the buildings. And as we were driving past, I was like, ‘That’s something I want to do. I want to protect people. I want to be a part of something that’s bigger than just me,'” said Schlotte.

Now, both women hope their stories influence other women to pursue the careers of their dreams.

“I never, as a young girl, never saw myself joining the service. I’d be proud,” said Philbrick.

“If you’re passionate about it, go for it. If you have to put in the extra work, it’s going to be worth it,” said Schlotte.

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