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VMM-263 Marine makes historic flight

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  • VMM-263 Marine makes historic flight

    VMM-263 Marine makes historic flight
    Submitted by: MCAS New River
    Story Identification #: 2006322112221
    Story by Lance Cpl. Jonathan A. Tabb

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. (March 22, 2006) -- Each day Marines around the world make history. One pilot with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 made history March 13 when she became the first female ever to pilot the MV-22 Osprey.

    Captain Elizabeth A. Okoreeh-Baah spent the first five and a half years of her career in the Marine Corps as a CH-46E “Sea Knight” pilot, but when Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-263 began transitioning to the Osprey Program while she was stationed there, she became one of the first female pilots to begin training on the controls of the tiltrotor aircraft.

    “She was the first female selected on the V-22 transition conversion board and out of sheer fate, she’s here, she’s in the pipeline going through the syllabus and she’s passed everything so far with flying colors,” said Col. Joel P. Kane, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron-204 commanding officer.

    Okoreeh-Baah spent her first three months with VMMT-204 training on the flight simulators at Marine Aircrew Training Systems Squadron.

    “All her ground school and all her simulator flights have gone spectacularly,” said Kane. “After she completes her co-pilot’s syllabus, it’ll be nine months to a year before she’s a certified Osprey pilot.”

    Okoreeh-Baah said her decision to become one of the few and the proud is a direct result of living in Memphis, Tenn., and attending a very small high school.

    “I went out to different schools pretty often because my school was so small. The influences I got were mostly from seeing all the people around who had been in the Army,” Okoreeh-Baah explained. “At one time they had good plans; they were professional, but they just didn’t do anything with themselves. They lacked drive. I think that’s why the Corps appealed to me so much.”

    Okoreeh-Baah said that while she was greatly influenced by outside sources, her family was also very encouraging throughout her life.

    “She’s going to go a long way because she never quits. She can succeed at anything she puts her mind to,” said Okoreeh-Baah’s father, Isaac K. Okoreeh-Baah Sr., a native of Ghana, North Africa. “She gets that from me, I think.”

    After meeting the Marine recruiters and noticing they were the only ones who showed up on time, Okoreeh-Baah made her decision and signed up for enlistment through the Delayed Entry Program.

    Okoreeh-Baah said her parents were strongly against her enlisting and wanted her to do something that wouldn’t put her in harm’s way.

    “My parents called the captain in charge of my recruiting station told him they didn’t want me going. They wanted me to go to Yale and not do anything that might put me in danger,” she explained. “The captain was a graduate of the Naval Academy and after talking to him, my parents got on board and were able to sell me on the Naval Academy being just like the Marine Corps, except I could get my education.”

    After arriving at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Okoreeh-Baah said her urge to be a Marine was heightened greatly.

    “It became very evident that the only leaders who had a consistent influence on my growth at the Academy were Marine Corps officers,” she explained. “The Marine instructors are the ones who made a real difference in my life.”

    Okoreeh-Baah said she doesn’t know exactly what her future holds, but she’s sure her experiences in the Corps will help her with everything she does in life.

    “It’s a whole new world, a whole new military. I’d love to have my own squadron but there’s no set path because I’m not even a co-pilot yet,” she said. “I would also like to be an instructor one day.”

    Captain Elizabeth A. Okoreeh-Baah, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron-263 schedules officer and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron-204 student, poses in front of an MV-22 Osprey March 14. March 13 marked her first flight in the Osprey and the first time a female has piloted the tiltrotor aircraft.
    Photo by: Lance Cpl. Jonathan A. Tabb