MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – When an economics major in
her freshman year stepped into class and saw a video of a plane hitting
the World Trade Centers the feeling of helplessness overwhelmed her. She
knew then she had to do something to make a difference.
She decided when hearing about the possibilities of being a pilot in the
Marine Corps, that she would use that to aid her country in a time of
need. This person, now a Marine pilot with Marine Heavy Helicopter
Squadron 462, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, is Capt. Charlene Wyman.
After seven years in the Marine Corps, spending her entire career as a
CH-53E Super Stallion pilot, she doesn’t look at her job as work, she
sees it as fun.
“As a woman, I wanted to be in direct support of the troops on the
ground,” said Wyman, a Denver, Colo., native. “I wanted to be as close
to the action as possible.”
On her first deployment where she spent three months in Iraq and three
months in Afghanistan, she was one of four female pilots, which was an
anomaly, she explained.
Upon returning, there was only one other female pilot in her squadron.
“In older generations it may have been a bigger deal,” said Wyman. “But,
nowadays women are seen in many different jobs that they wouldn’t have
been in before and it doesn’t faze anyone.”
The friendships made in the Marine Corps are tighter than those possibly
made in a civilian job. As a pilot, the opportunities to work closely
with officers and enlisted closely help to pass knowledge and make the
team as a whole stronger, explained Wyman.
She is very personable and it is easy to ask her questions because she
is knowledgeable and can explain things in a manner that is easy to
understand, added Capt. John Dextor, a pilot and operations officer with
HMM-462, 3rd MAW and a Norfolk, Va., native.
As a pilot with qualifications to instruct others in training and
weapons and tactics, she thoroughly passes her knowledge to anyone who
can benefit from it, explained Dextor.
“She is very attention-to-detail oriented,” said Dextor. “Working as
operations officers together, she coordinates about 40 pilots and
matches what they need with classes, students and instructors to get the
Wyman is proud to be in a squadron that grows and works as a team. She
benefits from others as well as passes her knowledge to colleagues.
Without them, she would not have gotten the opportunity to fly with
Headquarters Marine Corps Squadron 1 in the future.
“She is going to be a pilot with HMX-1.” said Dextor. “That is a
testament to her skill level and potential for the future,” said Dextor.
“It is very competitive and a very selective process.”
As a pilot with many opportunities, Wyman would not change it.
“I didn’t plan on staying in for this long.” said Wyman. “However, I
didn’t know it was going to be this much fun. I know I’ll be in HMX-1
for four years, so if I still love it, I will keep doing this. I don’t
honestly know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t here.”