Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell

Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, and the first female African-American fighter pilot in the history of that service. She flew the F-16 Fighting Falcon during combat missions in Operation Northern Watch. She is stationed at Nellis Air Force Base where she is a member of the 78th Attack Squadron and serves as an MQ-9 Pilot and Mission Commander.[1]

Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell
Air Force's first African American female fighter pilot 080317-F-XX000-064.jpg
Born (1976-04-20) April 20, 1976 (age 44)
Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchSeal of the United States Department of the Air Force.svg United States Air Force
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Lt. Colonel
Unit78th Attack Squadron, 926th Fighter Wing
Battles/warsOperation Southern Watch
Operation Northern Watch
Operation Iraqi Freedom
AwardsAir Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal
Aerial Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Air Force Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal ribbon.svg Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korea Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg Korean Defense Service Medal
RelationsDr. Norman Ng A Qui (father)
Eve Blackman Ng A Qui (mother)
Shawna flying Iraq no-fly zone Operation Northern Watch 2001

Early life and educationEdit

Kimbrell was born in Lafayette, Indiana, the youngest of four children, to Guyanese parents. Her mother and father, Eve Blackman Ng A Qui and Dr. Norman Ng A Qui migrated to the United States for education opportunities and became naturalized U.S. citizens by the time she was born. The family moved to Parker, Colorado and it was there while attending fourth grade Kimbrell decided she wanted to become a fighter pilot.[2] She had her first flight lesson at age fourteen, then later joined the Civil Air Patrol, worked at air shows and earned her private pilot's license. She graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1998 and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Engineering. She earned her pilot wings a year later in August, 1999.[3] In addition Lt Col Kimbrell holds a Masters in Business Administration from Touro University.


Lt Col Kimbrell received her commission in 1998 after graduating from the USAF Academy, later she attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB, TX and was awarded her pilot wings in August 1999. She then completed Introduction to Fighter Fundamental training at Randolph AFB, TX in November 1999. In August 2000, she graduated from her initial F-16 training at Luke AFB, AZ becoming the first African American female fighter pilot in the USAF.

She was assigned to the 13th Fighter Squadron, Misawa, Japan for her first operational assignment. During this time she was deployed to Turkey and Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Northern and Southern Watch. Her flights in Operation Northern Watch marked her as the first female pilot to fly combat missions for Misawa's 35th Fighter Wing. Additionally, during Operation Northern Watch she became the first African American female pilot to employ ordnance in combat.[4]

In July 2004, she graduated from the Joint Fire Control Course and was assigned to the 15th Air Support Operations Squadron. Later she deployed as the 2nd Brigade Air Liaison Officer in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In June 2007 Lt Col Kimbrell was assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano AB Italy where she served as Assistant Director of Operations for the 555 Fighter Squadron.

In 2009 Lt Col Kimbrell relocated to 6th Combat Training Squadron, Nellis AFB where she served as the Course Manager for the Air Liaison Officer Qualification Course and an instructor. From this assignment she separated from active duty Air Force and transitioned to the Air Force Reserves in Oct 2013.

Beginning October 2013 Lt Col Kimbrell serves as an MQ-9 Pilot and Mission Commander for the 78th Attack Squadron out of Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

Her personal lifeEdit

Lt Col Kimbrell currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and two sons.

Awards and decorationsEdit



  1. ^ a b Weaver, Justin. Meet the Air Force's first female African-American fighter pilot. 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs, USAF. 2010-05-21. URL: Accessed: 2010-05-21. (Archived by WebCite at
  2. ^ "First Black Female Fighter Pilot Follows Childhood Dream – DoDLive". Retrieved Mar 19, 2020.
  3. ^ "Rochelle Kimbrell: The First Black Female Fighter Pilot". Apr 20, 2016. Retrieved Mar 19, 2020.
  4. ^ "Kimbrell". Retrieved Mar 19, 2020.