Jessica McCormick has a rich military career, now highlighted by becoming the
first female Apache helicopter pilot in the Mississippi Army National Guard.
from the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Ala., on Sept. 29, 2016.
“I never set out to
be the first female to do something. I’ve always been
really headstrong,” she said. “It was a lot of weight on my shoulders because
if I failed it would be like all females failed because I was the one and only
stationed with Company A, 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment in Tupelo,
Miss., which flies the AH-64D Apache Longbow.
“I can see her
having a great impact on the Alpha Company, Punishers, and the Mississippi
National Guard,” said 1st Lt. Rudy James Pyron, company commander.
McCormick did not
always want to be a Mississippi National Guard Apache pilot.
“I guess I always
wanted to be a police officer,” said McCormick, an Amory, Miss. native. “I
talked to a Marine recruiter one day. He said, ‘You know you can be a police
officer in the Marine Corps,’ and before I knew it
I enlisted in the Marine Corps.”
She started her
Marine Corps career in 2003 as a military police officer stationed at Camp
Pendleton, Calif., and deployed twice in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 to Iraq during
her four years of active duty.
She enlisted in the
Mississippi National Guard as a military police officer a year after her
separation, said McCormick, known as Jessi to her peers.
“I missed that sense
of family and camaraderie (that you find in the military),” she said.
During her time in
the National Guard, McCormick has deployed twice - to Iraq in 2009-2010 as a
military police officer with the Clinton-based 114th Military Police company,
and to Afghanistan in 2013 as a public affairs sergeant with the Jackson-based
102nd Public Affairs Detachment.
As a public affairs
sergeant, McCormick patrolled with the infantry and documented key leader
meetings with photographs, some of which were published in national and
international publications, which helped keep media attention on the U.S.
mission in Afghanistan.
“On my Afghanistan
deployment, I was flying around, feet dangling out the side of a Blackhawk
(helicopter),” said McCormick.
She decided then she
wanted to be a pilot and began to plot her career path to get there. Since only
officers could become pilots, her first step was to become one.
Her future plans for
civilian life will be to put her piloting skill to use for a law enforcement
agency, said McCormick. She will finish her Bachelor’s
degree in psychology from the University of Mississippi in 2017. Her hope is to
one day work with combat veterans.
McCormick has served
in the armed forces for nearly 14 years. While she has held a variety of
positions with the military, her recent achievement of becoming the first
female in MSARNG to be an Apache helicopter pilot stands out as one of her