Military Wiki
Vernice Armour
Armour in January 2006
Born 1973 (age 48–49)
Place of birth Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1993-2007
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Captain
Unit HMLA-169

Iraq War

Awards Air Medal with 13 Strike Flight awards and Combat "V"
Other work Zero to Breakthrough(TM) Expert, professional keynote speaker, law enforcement officer

Vernice Armour (born 1973) is a former United States Marine Corps officer who was the first African-American female naval aviator in the Marine Corps and the first African American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces.[1] She flew the AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopter in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and eventually served two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.[2]

Early life and education

Armour was born in 1973 in Chicago, Illinois to Gaston C. Armour Jr. and Authurine Armour. After her parents divorced, Clarence Jackson married Authurine. Both her father and her stepfather had served in the military - Gaston Armour was a retired major in the U.S. Army Reserves, and Clarence Jackson was a former Marine Corps sergeant that served three tours in Vietnam.[3] Her grandfather, too, was a Marine.[4]

Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Armour graduated from Overton High School, where she was a member of the mathematics honor society, the National Honor Society, and class vice-president.[2]


In 1993, while a student at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Armour enlisted in the Army Reserves and later the Army ROTC.[3]

In 1996, she took time off from college to become a Nashville police officer (her childhood dream). She became the first female African-American on the motorcycle squad.[2][4]

Capt. Vernice Armour and NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson receiving award from the Bessie Coleman Foundation

Armour graduated from MTSU in 1997. In 1998, Armour became the first African American female to serve as a police officer in Tempe, Arizona before joining the U.S. Marines as an Officer Candidate in October 1998.[1]

Commissioned a Second Lieutenant on December 12, 1998 Armour was sent to flight school at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas and later Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Earning her wings in July 2001, Armour was not only number one in her class of twelve, she was number one among the last two hundred graduates. She became the Marine Corps' first African-American female pilot.[2][3]

After flight school, Armour was assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California for training in the AH-1W SuperCobra. While at Camp Pendleton, she was named 2001 Camp Pendleton Female Athlete of the Year, twice won the Camp's annual Strongest Warrior Competition, and was a running back for the San Diego Sunfire women's football team.[1]

In March 2003, she flew with HMLA-169 during the invasion of Iraq becoming America's first African-American female combat pilot. She completed two combat tours in the Gulf.[2] Afterwards, she was assigned to the Manpower and Reserve Affairs Equal Opportunity Branch as program liaison officer.[3]

Leaving the U.S. Marine Corps in June 2007, Armour began a career as a professional speaker and expert on creating breakthroughs in life.[2]

In 2011 her book Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter was published.[5]

Awards and decorations

Naval Aviator Badge.jpg
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Naval Aviator Badge
Air Medal w/ 1 award star, valor device, and Strike/Flight numeral "13"
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ valor device Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star
Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 2 service stars Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 1 service star

See also

  • List of U.S. Marines
  • List of African-American firsts
  • Elizabeth A. Okoreeh-Baah, first female Marine Corps Osprey pilot


External links

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