BY MOLLIE S. WATERS
The Greenville Standard
Last month, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey honored First Lieutenant Kayla Freeman with the 2019 Veteran of the Year Award.
Freeman became a pilot with the Alabama Army National Guard in 2018.
According to an article from July 25, 2018, titled “Alabama Army National Guard welcomes first black female pilot” on the Alabama National Guard’s website, Freeman made history when she earned her wings.
“Freeman, whose June 21 graduation made her the first black female pilot in the Alabama National Guard, said she ‘didn’t think about making history when I started this journey. I just wanted to do the best that I could do and hopefully inspire a few people along the way,’” states the article.
During the annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army West/Central Alabama chapter on Feb. 26 in Tuscaloosa, Governor Ivey recognized Freeman’s contributions to the military with the Veteran of the Year Award.
“She is the very first female African American pilot in the history of the Alabama National Guard,” said Ivey. “First Lieutenant Freeman, we are all incredibly proud of you and your accomplishment.”
During an interview with WVTM13 news station, Freeman said she never expected to be the first African American female helicopter pilot with the Alabama National Guard.
“It is an honor,” said Freeman of her recognition, “and I know that it means a lot in breaking barriers and allowing other minorities, not just minorities, majorities, whoever, to know that they can achieve the impossible.”
Freeman went on to say that her road to success has had some setbacks along the way, but she pushed through and is now seeing her efforts pay off.
“I’m just an average girl from a small town, who had big dreams and had to work really hard,” said Freeman. “But just as long as you have faith in God and you work hard and you persevere, you’ll see your success come to pass.”
Since her time with the Alabama National Guard, Freeman has flown over 250 hours of combat flight without any accidents or incidents.