The first time she piloted an aircraft, she had a memory flash of her college days when she, then penniless, saw the words 'free trip' on a flyer at Career Day. At the event, she observed a black female wearing an aviation suite.

Years later, accompanied with determination and commitment, she became the United States Marine Corps' first African American female pilot. The course was not easy, but she knew success did not contain excuses.

Vernice Armour shared her story in observance of Women's Equality Day at the Community Activities Center at Anniston Army Depot, Ala., on Aug. 12. This is an annual event hosted by the depot's Equal Employment Office. Formerly known as Woman Suffrage Day, this day marks the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote.

Donning a green flight suit, she took the audience of approximately 250 men and women on a motivational journey through her life experiences.

"Acknowledge the obstacles in your life, don't give them power," she began. "So often, we limit ourselves with excuses... we can't do that...we've always done it this long is it going to take."

Armour is founder of the 'Zero to Breakthrough' success model, which is built on a breakthrough mentality, not a zero mentality. She challenged the audience to thrive. "There are three things I charge you to do to succeed. First, do not make excuses. Second, make a commitment. Then execute. After you have done these things - review, recharge, and re-attack. If you don't get it right on the first attempt, don't quit."

The Tennessee native graduated from high school with honors and in 1993 she enlisted in the Army Reserves and later in the Army ROTC.

Defying the odds, she left college to fulfill a childhood dream and became a Nashville police officer. It was then that she became the first female African American on the motorcycle squad.
Four years later, she graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. In 1998, she became the first African American female to serve as a police officer in Temple, Ariz., before joining the Marines.

A pioneer in so many aspects, Armour flew the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She served two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

While taking off her flight suit to reveal her business attire that was underneath, she told the audience "life is about change."

"I'm the same individual who wore the flight suit. What's important is the legacy we leave behind," she said.

"We have one mission, one team, and one goal," she said. "That's to give the men and women who support our country the best equipment possible."

At the end of the program, Armour mingled with Depot Commander Col. S. B. Keller and her staff, as well as TACOM LCMC Commanding General Maj. Gen. Scott West, TACOM Aide-de-camp Capt. Justin Redfern, TACOM Sergeant Major Otis Cuffee, Army Materiel Command's Equal Employment Officer Jean James, and depot employees.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16