Miss Colorado Madison Marsh is first active-duty officer at Miss American pageant


Miss Colorado is soaring to new heights.

The Centennial State’s pageant winner, Madison Marsh, will make history this weekend as the first active-duty Air Force officer to vie for the Miss America title.

“It’s an awesome experience to bring both sides of the favorite parts of my life together and hopefully make a difference for others to be able to realize that you don’t have to limit yourself,” the 22-year-old Arkansas native told SWNS.

“In the military, it’s an open space to really lead in the way that you want to lead – in and out of uniform. I felt like pageants, and specifically winning Miss Colorado, was a way to truly exemplify that and to set the tone to help make other people feel more comfortable finding what means most to them.”

She will join 49 other beauty queen hopefuls in competition on the Florida stage Jan. 13 and 14 — about eight months after she clinched the Miss Colorado crown.

The achievement came just days before she graduated from the Air Force Academy with a degree in physics, according to her biography.

Marsh dutifully joined the branch as a 2nd lieutenant, while also pursuing her Master’s in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and training for the Miss America pageant.

Madison Marsh, an Air Force pilot, is representing Colorado in the Miss American pageant. William R. Lewis/USAF/SWNS

“For me, it’s great because I need to stay physically fit and in the gym for the military, so it already coincides with pageant training,” the go-getter said.

Marsh’s journey to competing on the Miss American stage was a winding one — she had her eyes set on a pilot’s license years before she ever considered competing in pageants.

After spending her childhood attending space camps and enjoying flying lessons, Marsh joined the Air Force Academy in El Paso County, Colorado to make her dreams a reality.

Marsh was crowned Miss Colorado just days before graduating from the US Air Force Academy. Instagram/missamericaco

That’s when she decided to dabble in pageants as an extracurricular activity.

“As a freshman at the Academy, you might have a hard time finding your identity in a very new and challenging environment,” Marsh told SWNS, adding that her cousin had a history in the culture and always raved about the “community service aspect and the focus on public speaking.”

She took home the Miss Colorado crown just three years later.

Marsh is the first active-duty military officer to compete in the Miss American competition. Instagram/missamericaco

Madison says: “It was very surreal. I believe I’m the first active-duty officer from any branch to represent at the national level of the Miss America organization.”

The modern-day “Top Gun” pilot even has her very own Goose — Marsh’s mustachioed boyfriend who bears an uncanny resemblance to Tom Cruise, aka Maverick’s, wingman in the hit 1986 film.

Marsh’s boyfriend bears a striking resemblance to Goose from the 1986 film “Top Gun.” Instagram/missmadisonmarsh, ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

If she were to secure the national crown this weekend, Marsh emphasized she would continue to use her platform to talk to young girls about serving in the military and to dispel stereotypes that exist about military women.

Although the beauty queen fighter pilot has ample possibilities awaiting her, Marsh said her journey will most likely take her into cancer research, a career inspired by the loss of her mother to pancreatic cancer.

“Towards the end of my time at USAFA, I started to realize that my bigger passions were in policy-making and cancer research so that’s why I ended up at the Kennedy School,” she said.

“I’m now trying to take the next step and use my studies from the Kennedy School to learn about the inner workings and the difficulties of what policy really looks like … Issues like economic environments and other social pressures that might be inhibiting our ability to implement cancer policies that can affect all Americans.”

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