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First Lt. Vernice Armour of Memphis, Tenn., heads back to the hangar after performing an engine wash on her AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter at an air base in the Gulf region in 2003. In 2002, Ms. Armour, a pilot with the HMLA 169 out of Camp Pendelton, Calif., became the first African-American female Cobra pilot in the US Marine Corps.

PHOTO: Julie Jacobson/AP/File

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