La. Army National Guard commissions first Black female pilot
Warrant Officer Tatiana Julien is taking her place among history-makers by becoming the Louisiana Army National Guard's first Black female pilot.
Julien is from New Orleans and enlisted in 2014 and graduated from Warrant Officer Candidate School in August 2019 before finishing flight school in July of 2021. She now serves as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Hammond.
"We often don't realize what kind of impact we have on other people's lives," Julien said. "I feel like I now have a responsibility to let young females know that aviation is an option for them even though it is a male-dominated field. There aren't many women, and even fewer Black women in aviation, both in the military and on the civilian side."
Julien says she has Chief Warrant Officer 4 Troy Willis for sparking her interest in aviation when she was deployed to the Middle East from 2017 to 2018. She said seeing a Black warrant officer pilot in her unit inspired her to become a pilot herself.
"I told Mr. Willis about my decision to become a pilot, and with no hesitation, he said that he will mentor me," Julien said. "He helped with putting my fight packet together, was there through all of my hardships during flight school, and he gave guidance when it was needed."
"I am extremely proud of Julien," Willis said. "Her level of intelligence and her inquisitiveness really stands out, making her a perfect candidate to become a pilot, and I believe that diversity in our armed forces is what makes us stronger."
In Baton Rouge, Julien was asked by Broadmoor High School JROTC instructor and retired Sgt. First Class Haywood Harrison to speak to several of his classes. He thought it was a good way to provide them with inspiration and hope,
"I had Ms. Julien speak with my class because my students needed to see someone that looks like them," Harrison said. "Someone that wasn't exposed to helicopters but was able to seek out the things she needed to do to become the first African American female pilot in the LAARNG."
Julien says her favorite part about serving is feeling like she is part of a family. She also knows first-hand the help she can provide in her position, having been rescued with her family in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter after Hurricane Katrina. They had been waiting in the Superdome a week for help.
"I like that the Guard can be activated to help with things that happen in local communities, different states, and overseas," Julien said. "Hope, security, and relief were all that I felt in that moment. I am now in a position where I may have to do the same for someone else."
Julien has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of New Orleans and plans to get her master's degree in counseling education or human resources.
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