Mary Jennings Hegar is a distinguished and best-selling author whose writings are deeply rooted in her vast lived experiences. A vocal advocate for equality and equity, Jennings Hegar's first book, “Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front”, decisively shapes conversations around gender and military service. The book brilliantly illustrates her service as a US Air Force Combat Search and Rescue pilot in Afghanistan and her swift, brave responses when her helicopter was shot down during a rescue mission.
Not only is Jennings Hegar an acclaimed author, she is also an indomitable military figure who served three tours in Afghanistan. Her remarkable survival during a grueling firefight, after her Medevac helicopter was shot down, became a testament to her courage and resilience. For her heroism, she was awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device, one of the highest distinctions given in the military.
Beyond the battleground and the writing desk, Jennings Hegar is known for her contributions to civil rights. Her successful lawsuit against the Department of Defense resulted in the repeal of the Ground Combat Exclusion policy which prevented women from serving in many combat roles. This triumph significantly improved military opportunities for women. Mary Jennings Hegar's diverse facets as a decorated combat veteran, inspiring author, and dedicated social activist shaping her legacy as a transformative voice in both literature and military service.