An Evening with Martha McSally

The East Texas Speakers Forum hosted the nation’s first female combat fighter pilot Col. Martha McSally for a speaking engagement on May 4, 2023.

An Evening with Col. Martha McSally

May 4, 2023 | Memorial City Hall

Colonel Martha E. McSally is a combat-proven leader, speaker and author. After losing her dad at the age of 12 and surviving sexualabuse and assault, she persevered to become the first woman in U.S. history to fly a fighter jet in combat and command a fighter squadron in combat. Along her journey, McSally had to overcome significant obstacles including U.S. federal law prohibiting women from flying combat jets and a bureaucracy deeming her too short to fly.

During her 26-year military career, McSally deployed six times to the Middle East and Afghanistan, flying 325 combat hours and earning the Bronze Star and six Air Medals. As a commander of her A-10 squadron, she oversaw $500 million in assets and $40 million in annual resources. McSally was deployed to Saudi Arabia on 9/11 and became a key leader in planning and executing initial air operations in Afghanistan.

As a colonel, she was handpicked as a key leader to stand up U.S. Africa Command from scratch. She then led oversight of all African continent operations, including counterterrorism and disaster relief.

She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s JFK School of Government and a Masters in Strategic Studies from the Air War College, where she graduated No. 1 in her class, and is a distinguished graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Following an unsuccessful bid in 2012, McSally was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014 and served two terms. She was the Republican nominee in Arizona’s 2018 U.S. Senate election, but lost the election. After interim Sen. Jon Kyl resigned from the state’s other Senate seat, where he was appointed after the death of John McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally to replace him.

She is the author of “Dare to Fly – Simple Lessons in Never Giving Up,” which motivates readers to overcome fear and adversity to achieve their full potential. McSally lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she enjoys hiking with her rescue Golden Retriever Boomer, running, and paragliding.

View a photo gallery and coverage from “An Evening with Martha McSally” courtesy of the Marshall News Messenger.