helicopter

Jeffries stands in uniform next to a sign that reads 'Lindsey Jefferies NC's First Female African AMerican Black Helicopter Pilot for the NC Army National Guard.'
Courtesy of Lindsey Jefferies

Captain Lindsey Jefferies was the first of her six siblings to graduate from college. As a child, her family struggled financially and was constantly on the move in search of better paying jobs and a lower cost of living. She hoped that getting a good education could be a ticket to a more secure future and set the goal of attending UNC-Chapel Hill.

Courtesy of Zachary Stauffer

Naval aviator Lt. Wes Van Dorn signed up to pilot MH-53E helicopters — big, heavy single-rotor aircraft — with assurances he’d be home on most days to have dinner with his family and tuck his son into bed at night.

But as the Greensboro native soon discovered, maintenance and supply issues often kept the choppers grounded, and maintainers and pilots like him at work. In 2014, Van Dorn was killed in a training exercise off the coast of Virginia along with two sailors, leaving his wife Nicole and two young boys behind.