Capt Karrie Brimhall Reaches New Heights As Marine Aviator
(March 18,2015) – In 2009, during her first deployment to Afghanistan, Marine aviator Capt Karrie Brimhall knew how much her fellow Marines were in need of supplies. And with a helicopter full of food, water and other necessities, a 10 thousand foot wall of inclement weather stood between her helicopter, her crew, and the Marines on the other side. After a failed attempt to navigate the storm, Brimhall and her crew knew how important getting through the weather would be to their fellow Marines. So Brimhall did what any Marine would do. They gave it another try and managed to penetrate the weather and land the supplies
"That was the first time on the radio, as we were coming in, that you could hear-it was tangible, the gratitude in that guys' voice," Brimhall said recently, as part of the Marine Corps representation at the annual Women In Aviation Conference, held in Dallas March 5-7. "That's my paycheck, that's what drives me to be better and make things happen for those guys." The annual conference is designed to give young women an opportunity to network, engage and communicate with people in a large number of roles in aviation.
Brimhall, who pilots a CH-53E Super Stallion, has known she wanted to be an aviator since the 6th grade, when she wrote in a class assignment about her dream of being in the sky. Once she got to high school, it was the Marine Corps that became her focus. "I thought if I was gonna do it, I was gonna do it right and go into the Marine Corps," Brimhall said. "I didn't really know how or why I was gonna get to the Marine Corps, but that was kind of what I decided on." With a dream in mind to be a pilot and a Marine, Brimhall found the recruiters approach a perfect match for her goal-oriented personality.
"It was a very different approach," she said. "He was basically like 'I'm not gonna sell you or beg you, bring what you've got to the table, and we'll see if the Marine Corps wants it or not.' So it was that kind of challenge and attitude that appealed to me."
As a pilot of the CH-53E-the largest helicopter in the United States military-Brimhall's aircraft is responsible for missions that include aerial refueling, transporting cargo, troops, and various Marine vehicles. It's one of the more versatile helicopters in the Marine Corps fleet, but for Brimhall, who is part of a four-person crew at the controls of the CH-53, it all begins on the ground.
"We only have a job, because of the ground guys. And my heart and my hat is completely open and off to those guys," she said. "Those are the ones that are really out there kicking in doors, and doing the work, so I only live and breathe to support them."