AL ASAD, Iraq -- Capt. Jessica M. Moore is one of a handful of female AH-1 Cobra pilots. As the daughter of a Navy radar intercept officer, Moore had never planned to join the military, and even if she had, the Marine Corps seemed the least likely option.
“My dad wanted me to join the Navy or the Air Force,” she said. “But, I was always impressed with the Marine Corps, and when I decided to join the military, the Marine Corps was the only branch I wanted to join.”
Perhaps it was the choice to join the Marine Corps, or maybe it was a successful deployment to Afghanistan and a successful first month in Iraq. Regardless of reasons, the North County Times, a large San Diego area newspaper named Moore one of its 2005 Military Women of Merit, an award recognizing outstanding female service members.
Moore was notified of her award in mid-September, and though the Poway, Calif., native is proud, she’s not the type of Marine to brag.
“I’ve kind of kept it on the down low,” she said. “It’s one of those things, you don’t want to highlight yourself.”
Moore’s low-key personality is evident in the way she conducts herself around the squadron. She’s not condescending when dealing with junior Marines. Neither is she arrogant when dealing with her superiors.
“She’s kind of quiet, very focused and hard working,” said Lt. Col. Lawrence E. Killmeier, the commanding officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167, the unit Moore belongs to. “She wanted to keep this under the radar because she said she was just doing her job.”
Killmeier took command of the squadron a short time before the deployment. In that time, he’s realized that in a squadron of elite pilots and officers, Moore holds her own.
“A slightly above average officer falls behind the pack in HML/A-167,” he said. “With my pilots, we don’t care about male or female. They perform well and do their job.”
For Moore, the award is as much about her parents as it is about her. Because she was deployed, her parents accepted the award at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. For her mother and father to accept the award in her stead is a quiet tribute to the two people who have had the greatest impact on her life.
“I’m really lucky to have such good relations with my family,” she said. “They are my inspiration.”
Though she would have enjoyed receiving her recognition in person, Moore said the real honor is being able to perform the tasks that won her recognition in the first place.
“I’m glad I’m here,” she said. “We train really hard to do our job and it’s good to support the guys on the ground.”