Motley promoted as first female CW5 in Kentucky Guard

By Capt. Rob Cooley, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

Chief Warrant Officer Stephanie Motley is promoted to the rank of chief warrant officer five by her mother, Donna Gribble during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., May 21, 2017. Motley, a Blackhawk pilot became the first female in the Kentucky Guard to earn the highest warrant officer rank. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Rob Cooley)

FRANKFORT, Ky. –Stephanie Motley, a Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot, was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 5, in Frankfort, Kentucky May 21, becoming the first female to attain the highest warrant officer rank.

“The promotion of Chief Stephanie Motley is not only a significant accomplishment for her personally, but as the first female W5 in the Kentucky Army National Guard it is a significant milestone for the entire Warrant Officer Cohort – particularly the 10 female warrant officers that are an integral part of our force,” said Command Chief Warrant Officer Dean Stoops.

“Her accomplishment is especially rewarding to me because I remember the day she returned from flight school and warrant officer basic course. Since then I have watched her mature from a basic Army Aviator to an accomplished, full-time, Senior Helicopter Instructor Pilot, Tactical Operations Officer, and combat veteran. It is very rewarding to have seen this progression over the years and to know that our Warrant Officer Cohort is being led by such shining examples,” Stoops added.

Motley enlisted in the Kentucky Army National Guard at the age of 17. During her first several years, she advanced through the aviation enlisted community, first as a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic, later as a UH-60 crewchief, until attending Warrant Officer Candidate School in 1995 and completing the UH-60 qualification course in 1996.

For Motley, becoming a pilot was a dream come true.

“I have wanted to fly since I was seven,” she said. “In high school, my JROTC instructor was a retired helicopter pilot who served in Vietnam, I loved to hear his stories and am grateful for his mentorship.”

Eventually, that teacher arranged for an orientation flight with the Kentucky Army National Guard; my path was set. With the support of my parents, I joined as soon as I was old enough.”

Her tenure as a pilot, which spans over two decades, has found her in many interesting places. Ecuador, El Salvador, Korea, and deployments to both Iraq and Kosovo, just to name a few.

A consummate professional, Motley is most proud of the growth of our organization.

“The value and necessity of the National Guard has changed over the years,” states Motley, comparing the pre and post 9-11 National Guard conditions. “We have proven to be a highly skilled and powerful asset in the protection of our nation, and our soldiers are as capable, if not more, than that of our active component counterparts. I am proud of what we represent and the respect that we have earned.”

True to the nature of a caring and intuitive Instructor, Motley’s advice to other female Aviators is tailor made and perfectly timed for subordinates and future peers. “Hopefully I have set an example for other females that gender does not define your limits, my achievement of rank is a reflection of hard work, dedication, and the earned trust of the leaders that I work for.”

Other Kentucky aviators like CW2 Stefanie Hall, also a Blackhawk pilot, draw inspiration from Motley’s accomplishment. Like Motley, Hall climbed the ranks from mechanic, crew chief, to her current assignment as an aviator.

“Ms. Motley is definitely someone I look up to,” said Hall. “She’s an excellent mentor and her promotion directly impacts me as she has paved the way for myself and other female aviators in regards to closing the gender gap.”

Although I know her gender has nothing to do with her amazing achievement, it does give me confidence in the organization to know that even though I am female, I have the support to achieve any goal I set my mind to,” Hall said. “Like Ms. Motley, my future is based on my drive, motivation and hard work. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to follow in her footsteps with the Kentucky Guard.”

Hall’s goals includes reaching the cockpit at her civilian employment, where she is currently a flight attendant, and eventually working full time for the Kentucky Guard.

From a young seven-year-old dreamer, daring to fly, to now, Motley continues to train, inspire, and influence others to achieve their personal goals and complete the mission of the Kentucky National Guard.

“Chief Motley is an excellent pilot and a talented instructor in the aircraft” said Lt. Col. Dwayne Lewis, 63rd commander. “I am incredibly proud of her accomplishment and she is certainly deserving of this opportunity. I look forward to seeing how Stephanie continues to impact our organization and how she grows our aviation community for the better, as one of our senior warrant officers in the state.”