Martha McSally

Retired Air Force Colonel Martha McSally hails from Warwick, and a Distinguished Graduate of the US Air Force Academy who became the first US female fighter pilot to fly combat missions, and the first woman to command an American fighter squadron. In 2001-2002, McSally earned national recognition for filing a lawsuit and successfully overturning a military policy requiring all U.S. servicewomen to wear a Muslim abaya (a long cloak-like garment) and headscarf when off base in Saudi Arabia.

Martha McSally graduated from St. Mary’s Academy – Bay View in 1984 as valedictorian of her class. Following her graduation from the Air Force Academy, she earned a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government before proceeding to flight school. She was later assigned to a squadron flying the A-10 Thunderbolt and was deployed to Kuwait. In January 1995, she became the first woman in U.S. history to fly a combat aircraft into enemy territory when she flew her first sortie into Iraq in support of the United Nations no-fly zone enforcement. She later graduated from the Air War College, first in her class of 261 future senior military leaders.

Martha’s last assignment was as a Division Chief at United States Africa Command, responsible for oversight of all U.S. military operations and activities on the continent of Africa, including counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations. She retired from the Air Force in 2010 after 26 years in uniform as a command pilot with more than 2600 flight hours, including more than 325 combat hours.

After retiring from the Air Force in 2010, McSally served as a Professor of National Security Studies at the George C. Marshall Center in Germany. She resigned her professorship in 2012 to run for Congress from Arizona, losing by less than 1% after an 11-day “long count” of provisional and absentee ballots.

It was one of the tightest elections in the country.

Martha McSally was elected to Congress in 2014.

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      Retired Air Force Colonel Martha McSally hails from Warwick, and a Distinguished Graduate of the US Air Force Academy who became the first US female fighter pilot to fly combat missions, and the first woman to command an American fighter squadron.

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