(BUSINESS WIRE)--Thirty-five years ago, 2nd Lieutenant Sally Murphy walked across a stage at Fort Rucker, Alabama and stepped into U.S. Army history. It was 1974 and Murphy became the first woman to graduate from the Army Aviation School. She was the Army’s first female helicopter and fixed wing pilot. She retired as a Colonel in 1999.
Murphy was honored in a formal ceremony last week at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia and received the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute Veteran Commendation to commemorate her 27 years of service and her place in military history.
“I come from an Army family that is dedicated to service,” said Murphy, now 60 years old. “My husband was an Army combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam. My son and daughter-in-law are Army officers and have served overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. I am humbled and take great pride in receiving the Freedom Team Salute Commendation.”
Murphy joined the Army’s Women Army Corps (WAC) program in 1972 and entered the Aviation School when the Army opened its ranks to women. She had previously attended the Military Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. After graduating from Aviation School, she served with the 330th Army Security Agency Company (Guardrail II) flying RU-21 airplanes as an intelligence officer along the border between Germany and the Soviet Union. Later she flew Huey helicopters and commanded a Company for the 1st infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas and went on to command the 62nd Aviation Company in Germany and the 78th Aviation Battalion (Provisional) in Japan.
“I was the only woman in Army Aviation School in the early 70s and if I told you I did not have problems with a few people, I would not be truthful,” said Murphy. “But things were changing and with the Vietnam War winding down, the Army needed to fill some voids. There were some tough times but it made me stronger. The Army is a family and there was always someone giving me encouragement and ready to assist me anytime I needed help.”
“Colonel (Ret.) Sally Murphy is an Army Aviation legend,” said Colonel David Griffith, Director of the Army’s Freedom Team Salute Program. “It is not often we have the opportunity to honor someone with a commendation who was a trailblazer. Sally Murphy has paved the way for hundreds of women to follow her footsteps and become Army Aviators. She is truly living history.”
Freedom Team Salute Commendations consist of a personalized letter and certificate signed by the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren and the Army Chief of Staff, General George W. Casey Jr. Honorees also receive official Army Lapel pins and The Salute, a quarterly newsletter that contains information of interest to the Army family.
Freedom Team Salute is a U.S. Army program established in 2005 by the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff which gives the public the opportunity to thank all U.S. Army Veterans for their service by recognizing them with Commendations. The program also honors and recognizes the Parents, Spouses, Employers, and Supporters of Active Duty, Army Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers. Freedom Team Salute has honored more than 1.9 million individuals since its launch. For more information on honoring a Veteran or becoming a Freedom Team Salute Ambassador, go to www.freedomteamsalute.com .
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