A memoir from an Air National Guard pilot who was shot down on a search-and-rescue mission during her third tour of duty in Afghanistan.
During her service, Hegar not only faced enemy fire, but also the hostility of some of her fellow officers, some of whom had difficulty accepting women in the military. Awarded a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in combat, the author’s active career in the military ended in 2009 as a result of injuries she suffered during the crash. Her courageous exploits also earned her the respect of her fellow officers. When she was no longer able to function as a rescue pilot, she applied to deploy with ground forces as a special tactics officer. Despite her unquestioned qualifications for the job, she was turned down because of a law that excluded women from ground combat, ending her career in the service. A civilian once again, Hegar returned to her home in Austin, Texas, married, and took on a job as a consultant on health issues, but her fighting days were not over. In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union contacted her, and she enthusiastically accepted an invitation to become a plaintiff in a successful lawsuit against gender discrimination in the military. “The Ground Combat Exclusion Policy was a civilian-issued order in the first place,” put into effect to pacify opponents of the Air Force’s decision to lift the ban on “females in combat cockpits.” In response to the lawsuit, which was supported by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the policy of banning women from ground combat was reversed by the Defense Department in 2013. “The incontrovertible fact was that this current policy banning women from being in combat was not good for the military,” writes Hegar. “The commanders in the field fighting the actual wars had their hands tied by this policy.”
A gripping chronicle by a daring pilot with an indomitable spirit.