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First female presidential helo pilot finishes tour


The Associated Press
Thursday, July 16, 2009; 4:44 PM

WASHINGTON -- More history was made at the White House on Thursday when President Barack Obama climbed aboard his waiting helicopter: An all-female Marine Corps crew was taking him to Andrews Air Force Base.

It was Maj. Jennifer Grieves' last day in a rotation that made her the first female pilot of Marine One, the presidential helicopter. To honor her achievement, Thursday's three-person crew was made up of women - another first.

Obama walked across the South Lawn from the Oval Office, climbed aboard the helicopter and shook hands and chatted with Grieves for a few seconds before the doors were closed and the helicopter lifted off for the short hop to Andrews, just outside Washington.

Details on what he said to Grieves were not immediately available.

Grieves, of Glendale, Ariz., was designated a "Marine One" pilot in May 2008 and flew President George W. Bush and Obama numerous times, according to information provided by the White House.

Grieves' co-pilot, Maj. Jennifer Marino, is from Palisade, Colo. Sgt. Rachael Sherman, of Traverse City, Mich., was the crew chief.

Grieves joined the Marine One squadron in October 2005, becoming the second female pilot to ever receive orders to the squadron.

She heads next to the Command and Staff College at Quantico, Va., to fulfill the necessary requirements for becoming a lieutenant colonel, according to the Marine Corps public affairs office.

Obama flew to New Jersey to campaign with Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, who is up for re-election in November. The president also was visiting New York City to address the 100th anniversary convention of the NAACP and attend a Democratic Party fundraiser.