Active duty US Air Force 2nd Lieutenant Madison Marsh, who pilots F-16 fighter jets, was crowned Miss America 2024 this week in an unprecedented result for the storied beauty pageant, which has been held since 1920 and features one representative from each state.
Miss Colorado is the first member of the US military to win the event. Ellie Breaux, who is Miss Texas, was named first runner-up.
Marsh was recently commissioned to fly Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon (Viper) fighter jets after graduating from the Air Force Academy last year. She is also known for her involvement in the Whitney Marsh Foundation's efforts to raise awareness and prevent cancer, especially pancreatic cancer, which killed her mother when Madison was 17. She began flying when she was 15 and made her first solo flight at 16, still as a civilian.
Marsh, 22, is also a master's student in the public policy program at the Harvard Kennedy School. She won the title of Miss Colorado last year before graduating from the military academy.
Madison, the city wishes you success, Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade wrote on X. You have inspired countless girls to dream big and reach for the stars.
Marsh, a native of Arkansas, made it through preliminary rounds until the field was whittled down to 11 contestants, who then competed in four categories, including a debate and an evening gown presentation. When asked about her military career, she said it embodied how she does things: with passion.
It's a great experience to bring together both sides of my favorite parts of my life and hopefully make a difference for others to realize that you don't have to limit yourself,” Marsh was also quoted as saying.
Madison's story was similar to that of María del Carmen Sabaliuskas, the Argentine daughter of an Italian housecleaner and a Lithuanian railroad worker, who rose from a small village in the province of Córdoba to become a pilot for Aerolíneas Argentinas after winning the 1967 Miss Argentina contest, which led to a modeling career.