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Virginia woman makes history in US Coast Guard: 'It’s beyond a blessing'

Posted at 12:34 AM, Jul 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-26 00:47:09-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Central Virginia woman who has been making history in her career in the U.S. Coast Guard celebrated another milestone this weekend.

Lt. Chanel Lee, a graduate of Henrico High School, became Lt. Commander Chanel Lee at a ceremony with family and friends at her mother’s home Saturday.

Lee is among only five African American women pilots in the Coast Guard. She was the first to fly an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter and the first to be assigned to flight school.

She just completed a tour in San Diego where she served as assistant engineering division chief and dealt with, among other things, the Southern California wildfires and the 2018 mudslides.

Lee said it has been a long journey, but she is not done yet.

"Today I was blessed and fortunate to have all the people that were there with me through those moments when I thought, maybe my career might be over, or I might not be able to do all the things that I had aspired to do," Lee said. "So to be able to stand here on the other side of it and actually have each of those people here to share with me is just, it’s beyond a blessing. I really can’t even put it into words."

Lee is currently enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Technology going for a Masters in Aeronautical Structural Mechanics and Materials.

Among the future career goals, Lee said "space would be cool.”