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177th FW Airman leads way as wing’s first African-American female chaplain

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Anita Morris, a chaplain with the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, speaks to a group of senior leaders, friends and family during her swearing-in ceremony, Feb. 12, 2017, at the 177th Fighter Wing, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.  Morris is the wing's first African-American female chaplain. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane Karp/Released)

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Anita Morris, a chaplain with the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, speaks to a group of senior leaders, friends and family during her swearing-in ceremony, Feb. 12, 2017, at the 177th Fighter Wing, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Morris is the wing's first African-American female chaplain. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane Karp/Released)

New Jersey National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Michael Cunniff swears in U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Anita Morris, a chaplain with the  New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, at her swearing-in ceremony, Feb. 12, 2017, at the 177th Fighter Wing, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.  Morris is the wing's first African-American female chaplain. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane Karp/Released)

New Jersey National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Michael Cunniff swears in U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Anita Morris, a chaplain with the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, at her swearing-in ceremony, Feb. 12, 2017, at the 177th Fighter Wing, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Morris is the wing's first African-American female chaplain. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane Karp/Released)

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. --

After taking the military oath of office, Morris became the first African-American female to serve as chaplain in the history of the 177th Fighter Wing.

 

“It was met with great humility and gratitude to know I am the first,” Morris said.  “I will continue to make pathways for others to continue to pursue their goals, no matter their trials or difficulty.”

 

Morris said her path to the NJANG was not an easy one, as many doors were closed for her along the way, and claims Dr. Maya Angelou as her role model and inspiration, specifically citing her   poem, “And Still I Rise.”

 

 “She helps me relate that others have been there before me, and I am also able to look back and exude the strength I need to move forward,” Morris said. “She was very influential to me in my youth, as well as in my adult life.”

 

In attendance of the ceremony were several friends and family members of Morris, as well as New Jersey National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Michael Cunniff, Commander of the New Jersey Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. Kevin Keehn and Commander of the 177th Fighter Wing Col. John DiDonna. 

 

Morris has an extensive military background,  starting her career as an enlisted Airmen in September of 1995.  Morris has served throughout the globe, to include: Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina and with the Wyoming Air National Guard in the continental U.S., as well as internationally at Masirah Island, Oman, as well as Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base and Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.

 

“Wyoming, Seymour Johnson, Al Salem, Oman, and everyone else’s loss, is the New Jersey Air  National Guard’s gain,” said Cunniff.

 

Throughout the years, Morris says she has mentored many, and she aims to bring that experience to the Airmen here at the 177th.

 

“My goal is to be a great asset to our chaplain team,” Morris said. “I want to serve our Airmen with transparency, offering spiritual service to help them to be the best Airmen they can be.”