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NEWS | July 31, 2023

More than flying: One Kentucky officer's story

By Spc. Danielle Sturgill, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Inside a hot and humid Army Aviation Support Facility at Boone National Guard Center, Soldiers prepare for their scheduled flight. Streaks of lightning flashed through the night sky; no aircraft would be flying tonight.

However, for U.S. Army 1st Lt. Cassandra Frederick, platoon leader and UH-60 Black Hawk pilot assigned to Bravo Company, 2/147th Assault Helicopter Battalion, that didn’t mean there wasn’t work to be done.

As a first-generation Soldier and aviator in her family, she is pioneering an Army career while also balancing her civilian career as a nurse. After speaking with a friend from nursing school who was also in the Guard, Frederick decided to join the Kentucky National Guard in 2018.

“He told me the Guard was looking for aviators and that I should look into this,” she said. “Within a few short months I was off to basic training and officer candidate school, then I boarded for aviation when I came back.”

For Frederick, flying is so much more than just a job.

“I’ve always assumed that everybody wants to fly and while that’s not necessarily true, it certainly is for me,” Frederick said. “It’s challenging and that appealed to me, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it at this level if I hadn’t joined the Guard. It’s a very specialized set of skills and not everyone gets the opportunity, so I feel very privileged to be able to do this.”

Graduating flight school doesn’t mean the training stops, however. Frederick says she’s learning new tasks like maneuvers and modes of flight while logging flight hours.

Flying a helicopter isn’t all Frederick needs to be technically proficient at. When she’s not in the cockpit, she’s wearing scrubs and providing medical care to patients at Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, Ky. After hearing a family member talk about their passion for nursing several years ago, Frederick decided to pursue nursing.

“It was apparent that she loved it, and that she was able to remain in a state of compassion and show that to people who are in their most vulnerable state,” Frederick said. “It didn’t take me long to figure out that I wanted to be a part of that, because it is just really special.”

The rewarding feeling of accomplishing difficult tasks makes it all worth it for Frederick, but the challenges still must be overcome regardless of the environment she finds herself in.

“Especially being a M-DAY (traditional) Soldier, trying to juggle nursing schedules and flying schedules is pretty complex. It’s a challenge to maintain two totally separate technical skill sets and stay sharp on both.”

Despite the inclement weather preventing a flight that night, Frederick and the crew still returned their aircraft to the hangar. She doesn’t let the storm phase her; She knows that she has plenty of opportunities to fly in the future.

In an atmosphere as demanding as aviation, having a strong support system makes all the difference for Frederick. Despite all the long hours, drill weekends, annual trainings and studying the job requires, she knows her role in the Kentucky National Guard is integral to the community.

“You’re committing a lot of time and mental energy to this, and you have to make a lot of sacrifices to make that happen,” Frederick said. “I’ve been able to accomplish something that I don’t think I ever would have been able to do without this group of people helping and encouraging me along the way.”

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