By Army Pfc. Christopher Shannon
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
TUPELO, Miss., Oct. 27, 2016 — Army Warrant Officer Jessica McCormick has a rich military career, now highlighted by becoming the first female Apache helicopter pilot in the Mississippi Army National Guard. McCormick, an Amory, Mississippi, native, graduated from the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Ala., Sept. 29, 2016.
“I never set out to be the first female to do something. I’ve always been really headstrong,” she said. “It was a lot of weight on my shoulders, because if I failed it would be like all females failed because I was the one and only from Mississippi.”
McCormick is stationed with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, in Tupelo, Miss., which flies the AH-64D Apache Longbow.
“I can see her having a great impact on the Alpha Company “Punishers” and the Mississippi National Guard,” said 1st Lt. Rudy James Pyron, Alpha Company commander.
McCormick said she did not always want to be a pilot.
“I guess I always wanted to be a police officer,” she said. “I talked to a Marine recruiter one day. He said, ‘You know you can be a police officer in the Marine Corps,’ and before I knew it I enlisted in the Marine Corps.”
Marine, Police Officer, Soldier, Pilot
She started her Marine Corps career in 2003 as a military police officer stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, and deployed twice to Iraq — from 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 — during her four years of active duty.
She enlisted in the Mississippi National Guard as a military police officer a year after her separation, McCormick said.
“I missed that sense of family and camaraderie [that you find in the military],” she said.
During her time in the National Guard, McCormick has deployed twice — to Iraq in 2009-2010 as a military police officer with the Clinton-based 114th Military Police Company, and to Afghanistan in 2013 as a public affairs sergeant with the Jackson-based 102nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.
As a public affairs sergeant, McCormick patrolled with the infantry and photographed key leader meetings. Some of her images were published in national and international publications, which helped keep media attention on the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
“On my Afghanistan deployment, I was flying around, feet dangling out the side of a Black Hawk [helicopter],” she said.
She decided then she wanted to be a pilot and began to plot her career path to get there. Since only officers could become pilots, her first step was to become one.
Her future plans for civilian life will be to put her piloting skill to use for a law enforcement agency, said McCormick. She will finish her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Mississippi in 2017. She would also like to work with combat veterans.
McCormick has served in the armed forces for nearly 14 years. While she has held a variety of positions with the military, her recent achievement of becoming the first female in MSARNG to be an Apache helicopter pilot stands out as one of her biggest accomplishments.