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Major Mary Jennings Hegar, one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013 and one of Newsweek’s 125 Women of Impact of 2012, was commissioned into the Air Force through ROTC at the University of Texas in 1999. In 2004, she was selected for pilot training by the Air National Guard. Upon completion of her training at the top of her class, she served three tours in Afghanistan flying Combat Search and Rescue as well as medevac missions. On her third tour to Afghanistan on July 29, 2009, she was shot down on a medevac mission and sustained wounds resulting in her being awarded the Purple Heart. Her actions on this mission saved the lives of her crew and patients, earning her the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device. Today, MJ lives in Austin with her family. She continues to advocate for marginalized communities as well as write and speak publicly about both her experiences in the military and her fight for increased military readiness through equality.
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