Air Force Veteran Nicole Malachowski is today's Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Nicole Malachowski, who was the first female pilot to fly with the Thunderbirds.

Nicole Malachowski was born in Santa Maria, California. She had dreams of flying military jets since she was five years old. In high school, Malachowski participated in the Nevada Wing of the Civil Air Patrol and Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps where she earned the highest rank available to cadets. When Malachowski was 16, she took her first solo flight. In 1992, she graduated from Western High School. By this time, Malachowski began working on her pilot’s license.

She attended the United States Air Force Academy where she earned a bachelor’s degree in management with a French minor. Malachowski commissioned in 1996 and graduated undergraduate pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base. She went on to pilot F-15E Strike Eagles.

Malachowski became the first woman to fly with the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Thunderbirds. She was the #3 pilot, flying on the right wing.

Malachowski later attended American Military University where she earned a master’s of degree in national security policy. She furthered her studies by earning a second master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the United States Naval War College.

From 2008 to 2009, Malachowski participated in the White House Fellows Program and focused on the General Services Administration where she worked on the Presidential Transition Support Team as deputy chief of staff. She also commanded the 333rd Flying Squadron, where she trained more than 200 students to fly the F-15E. After 21 years of service, Malachowski was medically retired due to illness.

Thank you for your service!

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at


Writer: Christine Perera

Editor: Michelle Cannon

Fact checker: Vivian Hurney

Graphic artist: Sarah Kowalewski 

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Published on Mar. 28, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.3 min.

Views to date: 226


  1. Daniel L Kibbee April 7, 2020 at 11:14 am

    But did you see the ribbons on her chest? And how about that rank ? She’s bad ….

  2. Douglas Leathem April 7, 2020 at 4:16 am

    I’m very proud of Nicole and sorry her career got cut short before she wanted it to be. It was obvious to me that she would achieve great things Even at the age of 14.
    –Maj Doug Leathem, CAP
    then-Deputy Commander for Cadets,
    Clark County Composite Squadron, NV Wing 1989-1991.

  3. Katty Duno April 1, 2020 at 10:25 am

    A woman’s pride in the military, honoring her and all women

  4. Senior Veterans Care Network March 30, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Thank you for your service Nicole Malachowski.

Comments are closed.

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