TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Governor Kay Ivey paid special recognition Wednesday to a female helicopter pilot who made history in the Alabama National Guard.
Gov. Ivey presented 26-year-old Lieutenant Kayla Freeman with the Veteran of the Year Award and a Gubernatorial Commendation. Freeman became the first African-American female pilot in the 200-year history of Alabama National Guard. She flew 250 combat missions in Iraq during operation “Enduring Freedom.”
“Thinking back to when I was in high school I never would have imagined being where I am today,” Freeman said. “I was following my dreams and didn’t know this would cause this much attention I just wanted to work hard and wanted to be a pilot and an engineer.”
Gov. Ivey says Freeman is an inspiration to women in Alabama and everywhere.
“I am very proud of her she is a trailblazer in her own right,” Gov. Ivey said. “She is breaking down her barriers too and that’s good. A lot has been done over the years and there is still more to do and I am proud to see her being one of the trailblazers.”
Freeman attended Tuskegee University where she received a B.S. in Aerospace Science Engineering. At her civilian job, she is a Flight Test Engineer for the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center in Huntsville.
Freeman is a CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilot with the Alabama National Guard’s 1-169th General Aviation Support Battalion.