CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea - When I commissioned in 2019 I had no idea the challenges that I would face in the Army. I never could have imagined; however, I’d have the incredible team that has helped me tackle these challenges. After graduating flight school, my unit Bravo Troop “Blackdeath,” 4-6 Air Cavalry Squadron, welcomed me with open arms. The enlisted crew chiefs taught me about aviation maintenance, the warrant officers taught me about the employment of attack aviation, and my command team taught me the value of leadership and doctrine. I am thankful for how much I have grown professionally and personally, and the opportunities that I have been afforded as a Trooper in 4-6 ACS.
I was the only woman in my troop for almost a year, and I am still one of only two female pilots in the squadron, and as a result I have relied heavily on female mentors drawn from other parts of my life to guide me. I majored in International Affairs at the United States Military Academy, and I was lucky to be taught by driven, confident, and intelligent female instructors. Maj. Kerney Perlik was my instructor in 2017, and she inspired me to branch aviation. I remember sitting in her office trying to decide what Army branch was right for me and listening to her tell me about the sense of purpose she felt while flying an air assault in combat. I was inspired to seek that “purpose,” and knew Army aviation was the branch for me.
I am also thankful to Maj. Delaney Brown, who was my instructor in 2018. She led our small class, and I was constantly in awe at her poise, intelligence, and ability to always tell who didn’t do the read-ahead for each lesson. She constantly pushed me to think critically and helped me as I struggled through difficult problems.
Maj. Perlik and Maj. Brown were my mentors in college, but I am lucky to be able to rely on them for mentorship and advice after my commissioning as well. From professional phone calls about how best to tackle a leadership challenge, to casual text messages about my day, every communication is a reminder about how strong the bonds of military women are. I strive every day to emulate their examples and be a mentor to any female Troopers in my unit. Maj. Perlik is now a UH-60 Black Hawk assigned to Fort Carson, Colo., and Maj. Brown is now an Army Strategist assigned to the National Capital Region.
I am so thankful to all the U.S. military women throughout history and in the present. My number one piece of advice to any woman who may join the military is to be yourself – don’t try to change and fit any perception of what a military woman “should” be. There is a place in the military for every person, and every personality.
1st Lt. Jaqueline Martin is an AH-64E pilot from Renton, Wash. assigned to 4-6 Air Cavalry Squadron, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. and is currently deployed to the Republic of Korea.