October 11, 2010
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|HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2010 APTA ANNUAL MEETING
‘Flygirl’ Armour: Don’t Let Obstacles Stop You
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor
Vernice “Flygirl” Armour may seem unique. Her childhood dream of being a police officer on horseback—along with a chance to attend Mardi Gras as part of an ROTC women’s rifle team—led her to become the first African-American woman to fly combat missions for the U.S. Marine Corps, serving two tours in Iraq.
But, as she told attendees at the 15th Annual APTA/WTS Breakfast Oct. 6 in San Antonio, the potential for greatness is available to any person. “Everyone faces obstacles,” she noted after bounding from the stage into the audience. “Acknowledge the obstacles, but don’t give them power”—a belief underpinning the philosophy she calls the “breakthrough mentality.”
Part of Armour’s forward-looking attitude comes from recognizing that she was “standing on a lot of shoulders” as she moved into unfamiliar territory, both mental and physical, and that people should consider the legacy they leave for the people who come after them.
Armour pointed to building relationships and accepting diversity of thought as important components toward achieving a personal breakthrough, along with “refusing to settle, even in the smallest moments.” She compared the members of an organization to an army’s varied types of ammunition: bullets, bombs, and missiles working together in a situation where no one form of ammunition could work as well by itself.
As she recounted stories from her experience—leading up to a mission in Iraq where, despite having limited fuel and one unreliable missile, she rescued U.S. soldiers pinned down by the enemy—Armour presented life as a dynamic experience that requires “full intensity.” She concluded: “It’s up to each of us how we react or respond to a situation. Where you go is up to you.”
In introducing Armour, Dwight Brashear, executive vice president for business development with TecTrans, sponsor of the session, quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If you can’t be a pine tree at the top of a hill, be a bush in the valley, but be the best bush you can be.”