Howard University Graduate Becomes Air Force Thunderbirds’ First Black Female Officer
With the coronavirus pandemic taking over all aspects of our lives, the country has been using several methods to show our appreciation to front line healthcare workers and associates. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are doing their part by performing flyovers to honor these workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
This year is Captain Reemashay Nelson’s first season with the squadron. The regular shows have temporarily been placed on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Thunderbirds have been conducting flyovers across D.C., Baltimore, and Atlanta to pay special tribute to people on the front lines battling the pandemic.
“I know a small percentage of African American officers, specifically female officers in the Air Force. So to be in a position that is visible, to show little girls that this is attainable, to let them know they can do anything they put their mind to, is an absolute honor,” Nelson tells NBC 4 Washington.
Nelson has spent eight years in the Air Force, serving mostly overseas. She says her best decision was the chance to attend Howard University.
“To be around people who look like me and instill a self-confidence in who I am, and walk into the world knowing where I come from and where my people come from, and where we can go, is invaluable,” Nelson said.
Nelson’s position is a highly selective one. She is only one of 12 Thunderbirds. Since the team’s inception in 1953, only 332 officers have made the cut.
“Even when people tell you no to your face, but your work shows where you should be, I think if you continue to work hard and go after what it is you want, you will achieve your dream.
“Where people can look up and have some type of hope during this time, to know we can get through this. The Thunderbirds are with them,” Nelson said.
Nelson feels that the grocery store clerks, those in fast-food service, and the sanitation workers who go to work every day should also be acknowledged.
“We have one life to live and so I want to do that by giving back and by showing people what is possible,” Nelson said. “Just to achieve as much as I can when I have the opportunity to do so.”
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