CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Capt. Lindsey Jefferies Jones looks back on her 17-year Army career as she bids farewell to the North Carolina National Guard (NCNG).
After successfully completing the Army ROTC program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and commissioning as a second lieutenant in 2012, Jones went on to train at the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker. There, she learned to fly the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter – becoming NCNG’s first Black female pilot.
“The first time the concept was introduced that I would be the first was during my junior year of college,” Jones said. “I couldn’t believe it because I still had to graduate and complete almost two years of flight school. I was baffled there was no one ahead of me or transferring in, but with every milestone I completed, it became more and more real.”
Joining the military wasn’t Jones’ first career choice, but she knew a free education would change the trajectory of her family, which often struggled financially. Although she joined for the money, Jones says she stayed for 17 years because it developed her into a better leader, and she’s forever grateful to the NCNG for giving her the opportunity.
Jones has held many positions in the NCNG to include commanding the Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) and Service and Support Detachments – units assigned to the 2-130th Airfield Operations Battalion, 449th Combat Aviation Brigade headquartered in Salisbury, N.C. She is currently assigned to the 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Charlotte as the air space management officer.
Recently, Jones had the opportunity to meet Lt. Col. (retired) Marcy (Hayes) NG, the first Black female aviator for the armed forces. The two women excitedly spoke for hours, sharing similar stories of triumph and success. Both admitted they didn’t know they wanted to fly early on in their careers, but thanks to the support of fellow soldiers, they were able to make history.
“My dreams and aspirations were what I could see at my fingertips, but I never saw the big picture,” Jones said. “I chose my military occupational specialty (MOS) based on location, duration of training and familiarity. I enlisted in 2005 as an Army aviation specialist, so the transition to aviator was a no-brainer. My career decisions were short-sighted, but when I see the effects of those decisions, I know it had to be ordained by God.”
Jones marked the end of her aviator legacy and NCNG career by conducting one last flight in the Lakota LUH-72, surrounded by friends and loved ones on Dec. 1. When asked about the legacy she wanted to leave in the NCNG and her hopes for the future, Jones said she’s excited for what’s to come.
“I want my legacy to be that of positive impact, and I believe I’ve done that,” Jones said. “I hope I’m an inspiration to other Black women because I may be the first, but I don’t want to be the only. A military journey is what you make it; You just have to show up.”
The farewell flight commemorates an aviator’s career accomplishments and a successful final mission – a timeless tradition. Jones’ last day in the Guard is scheduled for mid-January 2023.