Hispanic Heritage Month Heroes – Week 3
Marisol A. Chalas, the first Latina National Guard Black Hawk pilot
When I was in flight school, there were over 3,000 pilots who flew Black Hawks. Out of those, there were 120 females.
And out of those, Chalas became the first Latina National Guard Black Hawk helicopter pilot.
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Chalas moved to Massachusetts in 1982 at the age of nine. She enlisted in the Army National Guard during high school, received her bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and was first in her class at Fort Rucker Army Aviation School - earning over a dozen awards, including the Senior Aviator Badge. She was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Army’s Aviation branch from the Georgia Military Institute Officer Candidate School in 2001, and later joined the Army Reserve Active Guard Reserve program in 2011.
In 2017, when Chalas was recognized for participating in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Outstanding American by Choice initiative, she said: "It is such an honor to serve in the military. I've been in 27 years -- that tells you how much I enjoy it. After receiving my commission, I participated in a medical exercise in the Dominican Republic, and I was able to serve as a translator and help the doctors and nurses. There I was, as an American soldier flying over the town that I was born in. You cannot find something more rewarding."