Ashley “COTL” Pelzek
Ashley “COTL” Pelzek
Former FA-18 WSO, USN
Ashley “COTL” Pelzek was an FA-18 Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) for 9 of her 11 years of active duty service. She logged over 1800 flight hours and deployed twice (2011 and 2017) aboard the USS George H.W. Bush in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, New Dawn, and Inherent Resolve in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. She was selected to attend the Navy’s premier Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor course, also known as TOPGUN, and graduated in December 2012. She received 2 air medals, 2 Navy Commendation medals, 2 Navy Achievement medals, and was recognized as the 2011 Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic Weapons Systems Officer of the Year.
In June of 2017, COTL left the Navy to pursue an MBA at MIT Sloan in Cambridge, MA. While at MIT Sloan, she served as the vets club co-president and organized several community service events to include volunteering at the Boston veterans shelter for the Christmas season Gift-a-Vet program. She interned at Amazon UK in a consumer development rotational role and was assigned to the Musical Instruments team where she developed a business strategy and marketing plan to expand musical instruments in Amazon PAN EU (UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy) marketplaces. The learning curve at Amazon is steep, which she was familiar with from her time in the Navy, and she appreciated applying and comparing many of the leadership lessons learned from the military to the Leadership Principles at Amazon.
For COTL, completing the TOPGUN course was an incredible feeling, but she was far more humbled and proud when she was pulled aside at an airshow or after a flyover by a parent who told her their daughter didn’t even realize women could be in the military or fly until they saw COTL walking around with a bunch of guys in flight suits. It was always in those moments that COTL understood the influence she could have on young people and it inspires her to work that much harder to continue to set that good example.