By Najee Ellerbe

WASHINGTON – Vernice Armour had a passion for horses since she was 4 years old and dreamed of becoming a mounted police officer.

But that dream would be deferred while she attended Middle Tennessee State University . It was during college that she finally joined the police force in Nashville – but as a part of the motorcycle squad.

She joined the Army in 1992 under the delayed-entry program. The next fall, she signed up for Army ROTC. The military was part of her plan to become a police officer.

While in Army ROTC Leadership Training Advanced Camp, Armour saw something that would change her life — a black woman in a flight suit.

“It was a powerful image. It planted a strong, strong, strong seed. I am the blossom of that seed today”, Armour said during a recent news conference for high school students in the Urban Journalism Workshop.

She only spent five minutes talking with the woman but said the encounter motivated her to become a pilot. She calls it the “tangibility of possibility.”

Armour made her next move to turn that possibility into reality. She joined the Marine Corps.

Still unable to shake the image of the woman in the flight suit, she decided to attend aviation school in Pensacola, Fla. In a class of 12, she graduated first with honors on July 13, 2001.

Then the Sept.11 terrorists attack came. Armour was sent to Afghanistan where she flew the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters. She served two tours in the area.

Armour, now retired, has moved her dream of becoming a mounted police officer to the front-burner.

“I have decided that the adventure must continue,” she said.

She plans to take the test to become a volunteer police officer in Washington, D.C., where she’ll work 16 hours a month, hopefully on mounted patrol.

The “adventure” also includes flying jets.

She is looking into joining the Air Guard. If she does, she will be the first African-American female to do that too.

“I’ll be a professional speaker by day, a cop by night, and a jet jock on the weekend,” she said.


Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization of Black journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.