For Flight Club 502’s last Intro to Aviation meeting, we were given the opportunity to meet Colonel Amy M. McGrath-Henderson “Krusty,” the first female Marine to fly on a combat mission. She shared her story with us as well as some advice for aspiring pilots. Colonel McGrath has over 2,000 flight hours and has flown 89 combat missions for the Unites States Marines, some including bombing al Qaeda and the Taliban. She has also worked in San Diego as a defense and foreign affairs policy advisor, as well as in the Pentagon’s International Sffairs Branch as a liaison to other federal government agencies. She has been awarded various honors such as the Meritorious Service Medal, Strike Flight Air Medals, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and others.
Colonel McGrath began her interest for aviation at age 11, when she saw aircraft carriers and jets on a history documentary. She decided flying was the path she wanted to take, and researched how to accomplish her goal. She soon found that very few women were involved in aviation and the military. McGrath learned that there was a federal law prohibiting women from flying aircraft carriers, so she wrote to each member of the House of Senate Arms Services Committee encouraging Congress to open military jobs to women. In 1993, the law was changed, allowing women to have combat roles in the military. Colonel McGrath recalled that her opportunity to join the US Naval Academy as a woman was due to “simply [being] in the right place at the right time.”
When asked how she got the drive to work towards joining the Marine Corps, McGrath said it was when she was told she couldn’t accomplish her goal that pushed her to work harder. She explained that she was ambitious and wanted to prove herself.
Thank you Colonel McGrath for taking the time to speak with us and sharing some words of wisdom!