Photo Information

Maj. Janine Garner stands in front of a KC-130J. Now, stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C as the Personnel Support Detachment 14 commanding officer with Marine Aircraft Group 14, Garner to leads her Marines with enthusiasm.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Gibson


23 Sep 2016 | Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Gibson 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

As the enormous Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules flew through the evening sky, Maj. Janine Garner’s voice came over the internal radio as she commanded her flight crew during aerial refueling training with a group of four F-35B Lightning aircraft belonging to Marine Aircraft Group 31, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. This was just one of many flights Garner has flown since joining the Marine Corps.

Now, stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C as the Personnel Support Detachment 14 commanding officer with Marine Aircraft Group 14, Garner to leads her Marines with enthusiasm.

“One day, I felt this calling to our armed forces that I couldn’t explain,” said Garner. “I didn’t really know anyone in the military, but I felt it was where God was guiding me. I prayed a lot about it and realized it was where the Lord wanted me to be.

“I joined the Marine Corps because it was the military branch I felt pulled to the most. I didn’t care what [military occupational specialty] I received. All I cared about was being able to lead Marines.”

Garner graduated Brigham Young University in 1999. After graduating and deciding to join the Marine Corps, the idea to become a pilot did not occur to her until after completing Officer Candidates School aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

“In the realm of things I could do, I’d never seen women do it, so it never occurred to me that [being a pilot] was something I could aspire to, so I came into the Marine Corps on a ground contract,” said Garner. “It wasn’t until I got to The Basic School that I decided to compete for an aviation contract.”

Becoming a pilot in the Marine Corps requires many months of training. Aspiring pilots must first complete six weeks of aviation pre-flight indoctrination at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., followed by 22 weeks of primary flight training. After primary flight training, officers go through advanced flight training, which can last 14 to 49 weeks for fixed-wing pilots or 27 to 44 weeks for rotary-wing pilots.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Naval Analyses, seven percent of the Marine Corps is comprised of females, and only four percent of those females are in the aviation field, making Garner one of few.

“I love it,” said Garner. “From the very first flight, I knew this was for me. I’m certain I would have been happy no matter what I did in the Marine Corps because leading Marines is ultimately what I wanted to do, but by golly, flying is just awesome.”

When asked what it’s like to be a female pilot in the Marine Corps, Garner said she is not fond of the question because it implies male and female pilots are not the same.

“I recognize that there are very few women who fly in the Marine Corps,” said Garner. “When you remove the gender from it, flying is honestly one of the greatest equalizers there are. It doesn’t matter how strong I am, how fast I can run, or how many pull ups I can do. What matters is how well I hit the books, prepare for my flights, and act professionally towards my crew.

“You have to be a consummate professional in an aircraft because the lives of your crew members depend on that. So being a female pilot is wonderful in that, once you get into the plane, gender has absolutely nothing to do with it.”

Garner also said when it comes to leading her Marines, she tries to approach everything genuinely.

“I try to lead by example but I also recognize that I am not perfect,” said Garner. “My job as the commanding officer isn’t to run around and be the decider. My job is to take care of the health and welfare of my Marines. So paying attention, leading by example and being genuine is key.”

One thing that Garner learned since her first day in the Marine Corps and has stuck with her throughout her career is to never let yourself think you can’t accomplish your goals.

“Don’t allow yourself to be limited just because you’ve never seen someone like yourself in the position you want to be in,” said Garner. “If you want to do it, go for it."


Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point