The Black Hawk helicopter is a four-bladed, two engine, versatile Army fighting machine—and for Commander Marisol Chalas, it’s her pride and joy.
“Thanks to my persistence, I have touched the sky,” she recalls a statement she holds dear to her heart.
From the first sound of the Black Hawk’s engines, one can feel the reverberations of Chalas’s success story. A-39 year-old Dominican American, and the nation's first Latina National Guard Black Hawk pilot, Chalas has lived her life from the cockpit of this legendary helicopter.
Her twenty-year aviation career in the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard have given her a breadth of experience that includes flying soldiers and equipment to and from the battle field during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2004, to flying four star generals, ambassadors, and Congressmen.
“I am a people person,” Chalas said. “One of the things I like about the Black Hawk is that you are always interacting with the troops.”
Born in 1973 in Bani, Dominican Republic, Chalas recalls her family’s first steps to the United States. In 1978, her father moved to Boston, in search of a better life. He and Chalas’ mother got their green cards in 1980. It wasn’t until Chalas was nine, in 1982, that she and her three younger sisters were reunited with them in America.
“It was cold. I remember running to my mom,” she emotionally recalled. “I remember seeing the snow. We just thought we were in Santo Domingo.”
Her parents are and continue to be her role models. They each worked two jobs at a Hilton hotel, at guest services and housekeeping, while also splitting time at a local Massachusetts shoe factory.
"We learned very young that in order to be successful you have to work hard at it, nothing is handed to you." READ MORE