Meet Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour
“America achieves her dream when we’re all going for ours.”
Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, 38, was the United States’ first African American female combat pilot. She was a Private (PV2) in Army Reserves and a Captain in Marine Corps, serving from 1993 to 1996 in Army Reserves and 1998 to 2007 in the Marine Corps, where she served two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom, flying Cobra Attack helicopters in the Iraqi desert.
Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee
Why did you decide to join? I saw the military as a way to prepare me for my future. I wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown. I was 18 and couldn’t be a cop until I was 21. That’s when my military journey and service to the country began. Wanting to leverage this opportunity, I joined army ROTC as a cadet. What I saw during Army leadership advanced camp completely changed my life. On a hot summer day back in 1994, I saw a woman in a fight suit. I went on to achieve my childhood dream of becoming a police officer, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman in the flight suit. How often do you get the chance to be a combat pilot? So I thought, why not? And I took the next challenge. America achieves her dream when we’re all going for ours. It was an honor to be able to serve my country in this way.
What’s the hardest part? Much to my surprise I get this question on Facebook and Twitter more than anything else. My granny always said anything worth having is worth working for. I’ll be honest: In the beginning, being in the military wasn’t tough, it just took dedication. When I started down the journey of blazing a trail, at one point I let my spirit get crushed. There were tough times, but everyone has tough times.
What do you love most about it? The military has been a personal journey for me. My grandfather was a Montford Point Marine and served in World War II. My dad was a Marine and served three tours in Vietnam. My father retired from the Army Reserves after 24 years. I love being part of this legacy, and the legacy of service to our great nation. “One Mission, One Goal, One Team ™; we’re all in this together. I love my country.
How does your family feel about it? When I first told my family I was going into the Marines, my dad didn’t want me to go because of how he saw women being treated. I asked him if I didn’t, who would? At some point, we as individuals have to take accountability and responsibility to make a difference. That being said, my parents have always been proud of me and supported me along my journey. I feel like I’ve given my parents all of their gray hair.
What’s it like being a female service member? You know, everyone has obstacles. Even the average white guy has obstacles. One of the most important things I learned on this journey is “Acknowledge the obstacles, DON’T give them power.” If I took my focus off my goals, lives would have been at stake.
What are some things you take with you, or do, to feel “at home” when you’re so far away from home? I have pictures, email, and social media. “Let’s connect on Facebook.” I also like receiving great care packages from home and hand-written letters.
Your biggest fear? My biggest fear would be not living into my purpose in life.
What do you want most out of life? Life is about squeezing all the pulp and juice out of the orange, living to the fullest and having fun in the process. I want to experience as much as I can. Most importantly, I want to help other people create breakthroughs in their own lives. So many people these days are stuck, and I want to help them to be able to go from where they are to where they want to be. Who needs a runway? Takeoff from where you are!
What’s something you wish all Americans knew about our troops? Military service members come from all walks of life. We serve because we love our country, but I think America already knows that.
Anything else you want to share with our readers? The core of my business at this point is speaking for organizations and leadership conferences. With the release of my first book, Zero to Breakthrough, I am now helping individuals with their personal development. A personal passion is now helping Veteran’s transition out of the military and into their own company or career. We’re all in this together. Reach out if you need me; I look forward to being of service. As we say in the Marine Corps, Semper Fidelis!