by Jess Clackum
Aviation has been part of Captain Munera’s life since she was a young girl. Her father Erich served as a Cobra, Kiowa, Blackhawk and Huey pilot in the Army and her mother Michele was the first female Army AH-1 Cobra Maintenance Test Pilot. Her parents met on her mother's check ride.
“I was always in awe of my parents- being dual military, flying such complicated missions, and always showing their kids love. My mother constantly reminded me that the WASP were the females that paved the way for women like her and the woman I would grow up to become. I remember her going to meetings with the WASP. I still have her pin, one I stole as a souvenir to treasure.”
Having talked for years about the desire to fly Army helicopters, after high school graduation, Munera enlisted in the Army as a Parachute Rigger. Her reasons for enlisting were twofold: to mature and to set herself up for college in the future.
As a young Sergeant she was selected by her chain of command to receive the Army’s Green to Gold Scholarship and so she enrolled in North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega, GA. Her goal: to become a strong Army Officer and branch into Army Aviation.
Munera graduated from flight school in 2011 and was assigned to lead a maintenance platoon of an air assault company with the 43rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade. To date, she has served eleven years, six of them in Aviation with two combat tours in Afghanistan. While deployed she was assigned as a battle captain to a combat assault team.
Captain Munera aims to inspire the younger generation just as her mother and grandmother's generations inspired her.
“The Army Aviation community is small and is quite a network. The stories that continue and the vast amounts of history that has made this community what it is makes it worthwhile. The barriers that women like Margaret Taylor (WASP 44-W-5) broke will continue to help women within Aviation as well as the Military as a whole.“
Captain Munera stays busy with work and family and both offer strong support systems, especially the latter. Her husband Juan, whom she met at NGSU when he was an aspiring Army pilot, is also an Army Captain and an equal partner in their marriage and the raising of their two children who are ages four and fourteen months.
"We are a strong team and if it wasn’t for the WASP who served as building blocks as a child I would have never gotten to where I am now!"
Captain Munera wanted to become a strong Army Officer and she has certainly done that. Along the way, she has also become a stronger woman, capable of doing so much more than she ever imagined. She has met and exceeded the challenge of family and a career, she is proof that women can have both and that it is not always necessary to forsake one dream for another!