Gonna Fly Now
As part of StoryCorps ongoing Military Voices Iniative and in partnership with The Service Project, participants Major Amy McGrath and Major Tegan Owen talk about being Marines and one of the first women in combat (McGrath).
She recalls watching a documentary as a 12 year old girl in Kentucky that inspired her to fly air craft carrier fighter jets. There McGrath’s journey began. There were obstacles. After learning of the combat exclusion law she wrote letters to her local congressman, senator and house armed services committee members, asking them to change the law so that she could fulfill her dream to be a fighter pilot. None of them said she could be a pilot, one said there were a lot of other jobs in the military that she could pursue, perhaps nursing. The dream carried her to the Naval Academy. Good fortune followed McGrath there. At the end of 1993 congress repealed the combat exclusion law, opening many of the jobs that had previously excluded women. After graduation from the academy, she was commissioned as a Marine and began flight school. She became the first woman Marine aviator to fly in Afghanistan.
“A lot of people ask me if it’s harder being a woman flying? I don’t think it is. I just try to take it in stride”.
She continued, “what the guys were looking for is ‘what does she do when she fails?’ Once they found out that I’m gonna pick up and learn from that mistake and move on and do better next time, they were ok. There is pressure but you just have to know about it and deal with it”.