For Sequim grad, a safe landing

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A Sequim grad made a big landing on Thursday, June 21. 


During a training exercise, 1st Lt. Gretchen Morgan Persinger took a brief stop at Sequim Valley Airport in a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter from Gray Army Airfield out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma. 


Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ken Sleeger said they were flying a simulation in the clouds to the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Port Angeles before landing in Sequim. 


Their platoon is part of a unit the responds to terrorist attacks to provide relief and evacuate people in need. 


Upon landing, Persinger and her crew were greeted by several of her family members and treated to coffee and doughnuts. 


Her mother, Karla Messerschmidt Morgan, said the family had never seen Persinger fly before except on an Internet clip.


Persinger graduated from Sequim in 2002 and ROTC and Pacific Lutheran University in 2008, and is currently a platoon leader managing pilots and crew members. She plans and flies missions. 


“I've always had a backseat interest in flying,” Persinger said. “I figured I'd have my pilot's license by 30 but no idea it'd be with the Army.” 


She split flying time with another pilot for the training. Family and airport visitors toured the helicopter.


Andy Sallee, president of Sequim Valley Airport, said Chinook helicopters never landed here until two days prior when the Army training began. They picked up two SUVs as part of the exercise. 


“I'm happy to see them in here. They do a lot for us,” Sallee said. 


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