2018 Tillman Scholar Natasha Ryan hadn’t originally planned on joining the military. Knowing she needed a backup plan to her full-ride scholarship for soccer to ensure she finished school, Natasha joined the U.S. Army in 1999 as an administrative specialist and postal clerk. Early in her career, she deployed to Bosnia, Kuwait, and Pakistan, where she supported humanitarian aid efforts through the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. But a chance meeting with two female Big Windy pilots motivated Natasha to pursue a new path in Army aviation—one that she had not previously known was possible.
In 2007, Natasha submitted her flight packet and started training. In her first assignment after flight school, she served with the 4th Infantry Division and deployed with A Company 2-4 to Regional Command-North for a year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Immediately following the deployment, the unit was moved to Fort Bliss, TX and stood up the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division. There, Natasha served in C Company 2-4 and deployed back to Regional Command-North for nine months, where she evacuated injured service members.
Still actively serving, now as a chief warrant officer, Natasha’s experiences as an aviation safety officer and as a military pilot have inspired her to do more to ensure service members have safe passage to accomplish their mission. She has put this into action with her tireless work in addressing safety risks at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA.
Passionate about the safety of her fellow soldiers and for the future of those who would walk through the airfield’s doors one day, Natasha took on what she describes in this video as an uphill battle to create change. Taking a wide-sweeping approach using data, community support, and passion, Natasha overcame countless “no’s.”
We were lucky enough to hear Natasha’s story and thrilled to see her continue this fight to create safe work conditions for everyone. Check out her Unconference talk on safety from the 2022 Pat Tillman Leadership Summit!