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In Celebration Of Women’s History Month, We Salute Single Women Who Made History

Sherrexia “Rexy” Rolle

Sherrexcia “Rexy” Rolle is making history by being the first single black woman to run the largest black-owned airline in the world.  Western Air is the largest privately-owned airline in the Bahamas and It was established in 2001 by Rex J. Rolle and Shandrice Woodside-Rolle.  Their daughter, Sherrexcia ‘Rexy’ Rolle started as a baggage handler and is now the Vice President of Operations and General Counsel for the airline valued at $90 million dollars.   At 31 years old, Rexy Rolle is a millennial savvy businesswoman and Bahamian native with an entrenched career in the aviation industry. Western Air is based out of San Andros Airport in The Bahamas. Ms. Rolle has been working for the airline since she was 12 years old, and her studies naturally took her on the path to become an aviation attorney to bring more value to the company.

“Rexy” earned a Doctor of Law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and is an active member of the State Bar of California. Western Air, a commercial airline that operates daily scheduled and on-demand flights to major destinations throughout the Bahamas, including Nassau, Grand Bahama, Exuma, Bimini, Abaco, and San Andros, also provides charter services to the Caribbean, Central, and South America. The airline conducts an average of 42 flights per day, 365 days a year and has a team of 165 employees. “Rexy” is also a licensed pilot.

Vernice Armour

Vernice Armour (born 1973) is a former United States Marine Corps officer who was the first African-American female naval aviator in the Marine Corps and the first African American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces. She flew the AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopter in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and eventually served two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  In 1993, while a student at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Armour enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and later entered into the U.S. Army’s ROTC.   In 1996, she took time off from college to become a Nashville police officer (her childhood dream). She became the first female African-American on the motorcycle squad. In 1998, Armour became the first African American female to serve as a police officer in Tempe, Arizona before joining the U.S. Marines as an Officer Candidate in October 1998.    Commissioned a Second Lieutenant on December 12, 1998, Armour was sent to flight school at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas and later Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Earning her wings in July 2001, Armour was not the only number one in her class of twelve, but she was also number one among the last two hundred graduates. She became the Marine Corps’ first African-American female pilot.  In March 2003, she flew with HMLA-169 during the invasion of Iraq becoming America’s first African-American female combat pilot. She completed two combat tours in the Gulf. Afterward, she was assigned to the Manpower and Reserve Affairs Equal Opportunity Branch as a program liaison officer.   In 2011, her book Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter was published.

Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926) was an early American civil aviator. She was the first woman of African-American descent, and the first of Native-American descent, to hold a pilot license. She earned her pilot license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale on June 15, 1921, and was the first black person to earn an international pilot’s license. Born to a family of sharecroppers in Texas, Coleman went into the cotton fields at a young age while also studying in a small segregated school and went on to attend one term of college at Langston University. She developed an early interest in flying, but African Americans, Native Americans, and women had no flight training opportunities in the United States, so she saved up money and obtained sponsorships to go to France for flight school. She then became a high profile pilot in early but also dangerous air shows in the United States. She was popularly known as Queen Bess and Brave Bessie, and she hoped to start a school for African-American fliers. Coleman died in a plane crash in 1926 while testing a new aircraft.

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