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How Madison Marsh Balances Air Force and Miss America Duties: Photos

Return to Fort Smith


2nd Lt. Madison Marsh wears her military uniform while holding her Miss America sash.

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lieutenant Madison Marsh wears her military uniform while holding her Miss America sash.

US Air Force photo by Miriam Thurber



Marsh returned to her hometown of Fort Smith, Arkansas, this weekend, greeted by a homecoming parade. She also visited local schools – including her old middle and high school – to talk about her journey to the Miss America stage from those same halls.

“I mean, I’ve been saying all day that winning Miss America was never about me,” Marsh said, according to local news channel KHBS. “It’s about the people in my community, who have supported me and the people we can influence.”

“And so, if I can hope to open the mind of another young woman or another young man to pursue their dreams, to do something different, then that’s a job well done. “, she continued. “And I am extremely fortunate to be in the position that I am.”

Air Force officer, competition winner, and now a student at Harvard


Madison Marsh sets off wall of fire at airshow

Madison Marsh sets off the wall of fire during the air show at the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo in Lakeland, Florida.

US Air Force photo by Miriam Thurber



Within a year, Marsh earned a degree in physics from the U.S. Air Force Academy, was crowned Miss Colorado, then Miss America, and earned a full scholarship to Harvard University.

Marsh earned her civilian pilot’s license at age 16, which prompted her to apply to USAFA. After receiving her commission as a second lieutenant, she was selected for the flight school pipeline to become a military pilot.

However, Marsh decided to defer flight school last September to pursue a master’s degree in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Advocating for pancreatic cancer research


Madison Marsh chats with students at the FIRST Robotics Championship in Houston, Texas.

Madison Marsh chats with students at the FIRST Robotics Championship in Houston, Texas.

US Air Force photo by Miriam Thurber



She also works as a graduate intern at Harvard Medical School, working with researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on early detection of pancreatic cancer using artificial intelligence.

Her mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2018, just nine months after her diagnosis, leading Marsh to become an advocate for patient care and research through the Whitney Marsh Foundation, the organization non-profit founded by his family after the death of his mother.

“We’ve come leaps and bounds from where we were when my mom was diagnosed five years ago, and I think that speaks volumes about the kind of progress we’re making in society as a whole. pancreatic cancer community,” Marsh told Healthline in an interview.

A future in public policy


Second Lieutenant Madison Marsh salutes before a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Second Lieutenant Madison Marsh participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser/Arlington National Cemetery/Released



Marsh said she hopes to apply the knowledge gained from her research at Harvard to shape public policy on Capitol Hill that will better support patients.

“Now I understand the science side of it and (how to ask) health professionals: ‘What do you think needs to be done for patients, and how can we achieve that through legislation?’” Marsh said at a United Service Organizations event at the Capitol. Hill in February. “Because through Harvard, even though I only got to do one semester, I learned that it’s very easy to make bad policy.”

“I think the best way to make good policy is to intimately understand the source – with patients – and understand it intimately scientifically so that we implement it correctly,” she added. “Now that all of these communities are able to pass this knowledge on to me, I’m really excited to be able to use that to introduce myself here on the Hill and maybe get some things done.”

Balancing active duty and re-enactment duty


2nd Lt. Madison Marsh holds her Miss America crown in front of students in the crowd

2nd Lt. Madison Marsh, crowned Miss America 2024, shares her crown with students at the NASCAR Fun Day Festival in Daytona Beach, Florida.

US Air Force photo by Miriam Thurber



Marsh is taking the rest of the year off from her degree and research to focus on her commitments with the Air Force and Miss America. To coincide with his competitive duties, the Air Force kept Marsh on active duty by assigning him to a public affairs and recruiting position.

“The Air Force has been really, really wonderful to me,” Marsh said. “Basically, every time I do Miss America events, I also give back to the Air Force to make sure people know the message about what it means to serve as a 2nd Lt. Marsh – the different ways that they can get involved in the military, whether it’s the Air Force or other branches or different jobs.”

Never the same day at work


U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Madison Marsh poses with Airmen

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Madison Marsh poses with Airmen at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

US Air Force photo by Miriam Thurber



The 22-year-old certainly has her hands full as she travels to a new city every few days to make a public appearance or attend events for the Air Force and Miss America, some of which can be very different one another.

“An event might be putting on my (Air Force) uniform to talk to students about what it means to serve our country,” she said, according to the Dayton Daily News, “and 10 minutes later I could change me into something. like this,” referring to her black sweater, high heels, tiara and Miss America sash, “to attend a conference or the Super Bowl.”

A day in the life of an Air Force cadet


Madison Marsh, wearing her Miss America sash and crown, poses in front of an airplane at the National Museum of the US Air Force.

2nd Lt. Madison Marsh, wearing her Miss America sash and crown, poses in front of an airplane at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

US Air Force photo by Miriam Thurber



In February, Marsh and 27 other state delegates visited his alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy, to tour the facilities. Delegates experienced a day in the life of an Air Force cadet, flying flight simulators, packing parachutes and sitting in a TG-16A glider.

“My Miss America class was overwhelmed by the whole experience,” Marsh said in an article published by USAFA’s Office of Strategic Communications. “They really got the whole cadet experience: dorm tours, flight simulators, jumping on planes, dining with the cadets, and more. I really couldn’t think of a better day to show them my House.”

Mike Peterson, director of the outreach division of USAFA’s Office of Strategic Communications, said he hopes the visit will inspire Miss America delegates to promote the academy in their home states.

“We hope one of the things delegates will talk about is how they were involved in Miss America’s return to her alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy,” Peterson said. “They will represent their state for the rest of their lives. We hope they continue to spread the word about the Academy and their positive experience here.”

“I serve as Second Lieutenant Marsh and simultaneously serve as Miss America”


2nd Lt. Madison Marsh poses for a photo through the open hatch of a C-17 Globemaster.

2nd Lt. Madison Marsh poses for a photo through the open hatch of a C-17 Globemaster.

US Air Force photo by Miriam Thurber



By serving in both the crown and uniform, Marsh said she hopes to empower young women to lead in any field, regardless of gender misconceptions.

“I hope women can see that they can define their own role in the military – whether or not they want to take it on a more feminine path – knowing that they have the power to make that decision,” he said. Marsh told DOD News in February. “I hope young girls understand that you can lead in the military, or you can lead in a boardroom, in the courthouse, in medical boardrooms – whatever it may be – and that we can take them seriously.

“Whether I’m wearing a crown and sash or wearing my uniform, I serve as 2nd Lieutenant Marsh and I simultaneously serve as Miss America, and they don’t stray from each other.”

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