Sheila L. Chamberlain

Sheila L. Chamberlain grew up in West Germany, graduated from Fort Knox High School and received her B.A. degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia with Post graduate studies in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and earned her J.D. from the University Of Miami School Of Law. The daughter of a retired US Army Combat Engineer and mother who was business owner, nurse and 27-year military wife, Ms. Chamberlain pursued a United States Army career and became the Army’s first African American Woman Combat Intelligence Pilot.

Ms. Chamberlain served on active duty during the Grenada/Panama Invasion and the Persian Gulf War with three tours in the Republic of Korea and Latin America. She is a General George C. Marshall Award Winner and Distinguished Military Graduate (Georgia Tech); graduate of the US Army Counterintelligence Human Intelligence Course, US Army Aviation Flight School, Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Schools, Joint Aerospace Command and Control Course, Army Combined Arms Service Staff College and the Marine Corp Command and General Staff College. Ms. Chamberlain’s distinctive military career includes 15 years of service in the U.S. and abroad, two command posts and numerous civilian and military honors including the National Defense Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal and The Tuskegee Airmen Blades award. During flight school she became the sole mentee of the famous Willa Brown Chappell, the first African American woman to run for the U.S. Congress and historical American Aviatrix.

She later became a member of the Fort Rucker Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated, honoring the legacy of her cousin, the famous Memphis Bomber Luke Weathers who was one of the original Tuskegee Airman with the 332nd Fighter Group.

Later in her career, her unit was sent to stabilize South Florida after the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, which is considered the worst disaster in American History. It was during her time in South Florida that she decided to leave the Army. Prior to leaving, she was asked to come before various members of the Congressional House of Representatives Armed Services Committee to give information on why women pilots should be assigned to combat aviation units. When asked if she wanted to stay to continue her career, she responded “I have survived and hopefully this will open the door for future women who just want to fly for their country.” One year after leaving, the Department of Defense officially declared that women would be allowed to fly combat aviation aircraft throughout the services.

Today, she remains politically active and mentors young people toward success- including those who seek careers in aviation.

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