Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Captain Jennifer J. Harris, United States Marine Corps
There is a special place in the heart of even the most hardened warrior for those who fly the helicopters charged with rescuing the warrior from the battlefield. In bars, those pilots never buy their own drinks. That is the ultimate demonstration of respect from the hardened warrior. They know that if the battle turns ugly, the Evac Chopper Pilot is their best hope of ever seeing the inside of a bar again.
Captain Jennifer Harris was the lone female member of the Marine Corps’ legendary Purple Fox Squadron. She did not opt for the high profile attack chopper billet, desiring instead to fill the roll of piloting the support helos charged with aiding those in need.
Her desire to be a Marine went back a long way. When she told her grandmother of her desire, her grandmother cringed and said, “Jen, the Marines are always the first to fight.” Jen answer no doubt made her grandmother cringe even further:
That’s why I want to be a Marine.
On Wednesday, February 7, 2007, Captain Harris’ CH-46 Twin Rotor Sea Knight Helo was brought down by enemy fire somewhere between Baghdad and Fallujah. All aboard perished in the crash.
Two months prior to her death, Harris sent a new squadron patch to her family. I have not been able to find it yet, but the family describes it as a “casualty evacuation insignia that shows an angel holding up a helicopter.” There is a hymn which declares that “the errand of angels is given to women”. I guess in the case of Captain Harris, truer words have seldom been more appropriate to her mission.
Godspeed, Jen. May Angels guide you home.
Here endeth the lesson.
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