Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour

When Vernice "Flygirl" Armour entered the flight training program at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, she did not intend to become the Marine Corps' first African-American female combat pilot.

She said she just wanted an adventurous life, but her accomplishments have been recognized by many.

Armour, a former captain in the United States Marines has a special connection to the Coastal Bend, having done her primary flight training at the NAS Corpus Christi.

Now an author and motivational speaker, Armour is busy traveling the country to deliver her message about creating our own breakthroughs.

"I ended up going there and having an amazing time, making lifelong friends. It was the best thing I could have ever done," Armour said. "Now look at me, talking to you. Full circle."

Her journey has been an adventurous one. While working as a police officer in Tennessee, she wanted to fulfill another dream and become a combat pilot. Her motivation led her to NAS in 2000.

"I also wanted to fly jets, and it was closer to where the jet squadrons were," Armour said. "So I had access and exposure."

Her own flight plan changed from flying jets to flying helicopters, and if she was going to helos, she wanted the most fierce one, the Super Cobra.

After NAS, she went on to Pensacola and ranked number one out of her class. She graduated in July of 2001, only three years after leaving the police department.

"There are only two ways to succeed," Armour said. "First or again."

Less than 60 days later, while driving in Southern California, she heard on the radio the Pentagon was hit. "And I knew that my life had changed," she said. "In that moment, when I heard that announcement. And that training wasn't just training anymore. That we would be going somewhere."

That somewhere was Iraq.

"My life has always been about service," Armour said. "So my feeling in that moment was another opportunity to serve in a way that I never dreamt of serving."

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Armour completed two tours of duty in the Gulf.

Lieutenant Commander of the U.S. Navy Victor Glover earned his wings in Kingsville.

"I was always amazed that she was going to be one of the first African-American pilots in the Marine Corps," Glover said. "She went on to become the first African-American female combat pilot in the United States Marine Corps. I was amazed that a person who earned that title was a friend of mine."

"I did not set out to be a barrier breaker," Armour said. "I always knew I was a role model, positive or negative. That's our choice."

Armour insists that the blessings she has been given are only meant to be passed on.

"I want to be known for being an amazing person on the planet, that was a speaker, yes a coach, yes an author, yes a philanthropist," Armour said. "Someone that gave back all of themselves."

Armour credits her success to her predecessors. She said that she "stands on the strong shoulders of the thousands" before her, and feels responsible to show the next generation how to keep blazing the trail.

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