NC Guard soldier is first in flight

By Staff Sgt. Mary Junell
NC National Guard

RALEIGH — When 2nd Lt. Lindsey Jefferies enlisted more than eight years ago, she did not know she would one day become a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot, much less the first female African-American helicopter pilot in the North Carolina National Guard.

Jefferies, who originally enlisted as an aviation operations specialist, said it was a “no-brainer” for her to stay in the aviation field, when faced with a career change upon commissioning as an officer in May 2012.

Courtesy photo by Army 2nd Lt. Lindsey Jefferies Army 2nd Lt. Lindsey Jefferies, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot with the North Carolina National Guard’s C Company, 1st Battalion, 131st Aviation, 449th Theater Aviation Brigade, holds a plaque that bears her name. The award is given to the RSP soldier who most exemplifies leadership, selfless-service, dedication to duty and those who raise the standards by which all other RSP soldiers are to be evaluated. “I think that Lt. Jefferies’ success serves as inspiration to hundreds of young soldiers who are exploring their own future,” said 1st Sgt. Robert Cook, a senior noncommissioned officer with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, 60th Troop Command, who was part of Jefferies’ cadre.

Courtesy photo by Army 2nd Lt. Lindsey Jefferies
Army 2nd Lt. Lindsey Jefferies, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot with the North Carolina National Guard’s C Company, 1st Battalion, 131st Aviation, 449th Theater Aviation Brigade, holds a plaque that bears her name. The award is given to the RSP soldier who most exemplifies leadership, selfless-service, dedication to duty and those who raise the standards by which all other RSP soldiers are to be evaluated. “I think that Lt. Jefferies’ success serves as inspiration to hundreds of young soldiers who are exploring their own future,” said 1st Sgt. Robert Cook, a senior noncommissioned officer with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, 60th Troop Command, who was part of Jefferies’ cadre.

“When I enlisted in 2005, I had no idea that I would become a [Black Hawk] pilot eight years later,” Jefferies said. “Initially becoming a pilot was an idea that seemed so far out of reach and unattainable. But, after praying, putting my faith in God and seeking guidance from mentors, I made the decision to go for it, a decision forever cherished.”

Jefferies was first exposed to aviation while participating in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Needham B. Broughton High School in Raleigh.

“I had the opportunity to fly a small fixed-wing plane,” Jefferies said. “After that, the desire to fly was planted. After joining the North Carolina National Guard for the education benefits, I became further exposed to the aviation community through my job as an aviation operations specialist.”

Women have only been allowed to serve in the N.C. Guard for more than 50 years. On top of that, state National Guard organizations have only been desegregated for a little more than 35 years, so the fact that Jefferies is a pilot is significant.

“Being African-American and female does make me a double minority in the field of aviation, however I can honestly say that I am and have been evaluated based on my performance and ability to meet the qualification standards,” said Jefferies.

After earning her degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jeffries said she has become more aware of the role diversity plays in the workplace.

“One of the great things about the Army is that there are programs established and designed to increase education and promote criteria-based evaluations within the ranks,” said Jeffries.

Jefferies’ hard work and dedication has not only helped her break through a barrier, it has also earned her recognition among her peers; an award was recently named in her honor.

When Jefferies first enlisted in the N.C. Guard she spent her monthly weekend training in the Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP), where newly enlisted soldiers become better prepared for attending Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training.

After showing much promise and dedication to duty, the RSP unit she attended created the Lt. Lindsey Jefferies Award.

The award is given to the RSP soldier who most exemplifies leadership, selfless-service and dedication to duty. The award plaque also states the soldiers who receive the award have raised the standards by which all other RSP soldiers are to be evaluated.

In addition, the worthy recipients also must have the characteristics to motivate and inspire the cadre and incumbent warriors to do more, go further, work harder and achieve success.

First Sgt. Robert Cook, a senior noncommissioned officer with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, 60th Troop Command, was part of the cadre at Jefferies’ RSP unit when she first joined the Guard and helped create the award named in her honor.

“The award is simply to recognize those few individuals who have made the RSP more successful than expected,” Cook said. “Lt. Jefferies is the epitome of what someone who has the determination to be successful can achieve.”

When Jefferies joined the program, it was still new; serving as the student platoon leader, Cook said her participation in that role helped to shape the program.

“She was the first student platoon leader that embraced the role,” Cook said. “She used it to develop her own attributes.”

Jefferies used the lessons and character developed in RSP to shape her career and become an officer in the NCNG in order to earn the title of “First Female African-American Helicopter Pilot,” in the North Carolina National Guard; a title she is proud of.

“It is such an honor to be the first female African-American pilot in the North Carolina National Guard,” Jefferies said. “In every profession there has been and will continue to be firsts in some form or fashion an I am simply blessed to hold this title.”

Cook said it is great to see that Jefferies has accomplished such a historic benchmark in the NCNG.

“I think that Lt. Jefferies’ success serves as inspiration to hundreds of young soldiers who are exploring their own future,” Cook said. “Lt. Jefferies earned this distinction through hard work and dedication to her goals. I feel that her achievement proves she is simply an extraordinary soldier and officer.”

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Military and Veterans

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