The U.S. Navy proudly introduced its first black female fighter pilot, Lt. j.g Madeline Swegle. Because the majority of U.S. Navy service members are male and white, this is really a big accomplishment for Swegle.
On July 31, Swegle will receive her Wings of Gold, according to a tweet of the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) public affairs office. The tweet says, “BZ to Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle on completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus. Swegle is the @USNavy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot and will receive her wings of Gold later this month. HOOYAH!”
The tweet comes with two images of Swegle smiling in her pilot’s uniform. In one of the photos, she is next to a T-45C Goshawk training aircraft.
The immense smile coming from Swegle shows how happy and proud she is as the first Black female fighter pilot to serve the U.S. Navy. In fact, it took four long decades for another woman to earn her wings. It was in 1980 when Brenda E. Robinson graduated from the U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School. The first woman to ever fly tactical jets in the navy was Rosemary Mariner.
Praises and support for Swegle are overpouring from her friends and colleagues. The Navy’s vice chief of information, Rear Adm. Paula D. Dunn wrote on Twitter: “Very proud of LTJG Swegle. Go forth and kick butt.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren also extended her congratulations. She wrote, “Congratulations, LTJG Swegle! You make the @USNavy and our country stronger.”
Swegle’s best friend “Miss Alissa” could not contain her happiness as well. She posted photos of Swegle with a caption, “Just my best friend making history.”
Though the Navy has not yet released a detailed biography of Swegle’s career; one thing is for sure, Swegle is a strong woman with a great sense of determination. Being the first black woman to serve as a fighter pilot, Swegle surely worked hard to earn such a huge accomplishment.
Racism remains a global issue but the U.S. Navy is making its own effort to address it. In point of fact, they established Task Force One Navy to address not only racism but also sexism issues and other destructive biases within the organization. The task force is being led by Navy Rear Admiral Alvin Hosley and he is responsible for producing reports for Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday.
“As a Navy – uniform and civilian, active and reserve – we cannot tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind,” Gilday said. He added that they should work to identify and eliminate both systemic and individual racism within their force. Lieutenant J.G. Swegle’s story is a great exemplar of how the force can be successful in this regard.
Indeed, Bravo Zulu to Lieutenant Swegle! She didn’t just make black people proud but she also showed how women can make a difference in this world. For black women who want to join the U.S. Navy, her story will surely serve as an inspiration not to give up on their dreams regardless of their gender and race. If you’re one of them, keep working on your dreams and always stand up for yourself.