Policy-changing Purple Heart pilot visits MTSU wit...

Policy-changing Purple Heart pilot visits MTSU with advice to ‘Shoot Like a Girl’

U.S. Air Force Maj. Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar, a decorated combat search and rescue helicopter pilot in Afghanistan who also changed U.S. military policy, will visit MTSU Wednesday, Nov. 8.

The free 4:30 p.m. public lecture is set for Room 221 of the university’s McWherter Learning Resources Center, where Hegar is scheduled to speak on “You Can Be the Change.”

A campus map is available at Off-campus visitors attending the lecture can obtain a special one-day permit at

Hegar, 41, served three tours in Afghanistan with the Air Force, flying combat search and rescue missions as well as Medevac missions.

Maj. Mary Jennings "MJ" Hegar

Maj. Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar

She received a Purple Heart when she was shot down in 2009 during her third trip to the south central Asian nation. Her actions during the crisis saved her crew and patients, leading to her status as one of only two women to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor.

Hegar subsequently sued the U.S. Department of Defense in 2012, charging that the combat exclusion policy for women was unconstitutional. Her lawsuit resulted in the repeal of the policy the next year.

She released her memoir, “Shoot Like a Girl,” this past March and is currently seeking a Congressional seat in Texas. TriStar Pictures is developing her book into a movie.

Hegar’s visit is sponsored by MTSU’s Distinguished Lecture Fund and the College of Media and Entertainment. For more information, call 615-898-8490 or email

— Gina E. Fann (