Union County News

Meet Coast Guard's First African-American Female Helicopter Pilot, La'Shanda Holmes

16853d2ea0bbd3b7997e_1_plus_banner.jpg
The Coast Guard's Lieutenant La'Shanda Holmes Credits: Jennifer Popper
91b980bd4ada889ea44e_3_plus_banner.jpg
Plainfield resident Greg Carter and his wife Sandy with their niece, Lieutenant La'Shanda Holmes Credits: Jennifer Popper
ec9251850cc84c2e734f_1_plus_banner_full_length.jpg
Lieutenant La'Shanda Holmes Credits: Jennifer Popper
16853d2ea0bbd3b7997e_1_plus_banner.jpg

PLAINFIELD, NJ - Drive across South Ave. to East 7th Street in Plainfield, and you might catch a glimpse of a banner celebrating Lieutenant La'Shanda Holmes, the first African-American female helicopter pilot in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Holmes was born in Plainfield's Muhlenberg Hospital in 1985.  After her mom passed away when she was just two years old, she faced a difficult childhood, and spent time in the foster care system.

Overcoming adversity, Holmes attended Atlanta's Spelman College as a Bonner Scholar. The program provides a four-year scholarship to students in need who have a commitment to service. 

Sign Up for E-News

As a freshman, she studied biochemistry. That year, she worked at a career fair, sitting across the way from a gentleman from the Coast Guard. The Iraq War had begun, and he hadn't had many students visit his booth. Holmes struck up a conversation, and became intrigued in what he had to say about the military service. 

She was offered a scholarship for her last two years at college, and in 2005, headed to boot camp in Cape May, NJ. Holmes graduated from Spelman College in 2007, and from Officer Candidate School in 2008.  In 2010, she earned the coveted Wings of Gold, pinned on her by mentor Lt. Jeanine Menze, the first African-American female pilot in the Coast Guard who flew C-130s.

Holmes moved to Los Angeles, where she worked search and rescue, marine environment protection, and drug migrant interdiction duty. After, in Atlantic City, she worked Rotary Wing Air Intercept, or RWAI, around the President of the United States.

While in Atlantic City, she found out about the White House Fellows Program under the Obama administration, and was appointed to the 2015-16 class.

Today, Lt. Holmes is stationed in Miami. She has applied to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and has received an acceptance letter to become a five-year term member. 

Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 21, 2018

Dear Editor:

After Bruce Patterson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County Freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting Freeholder, I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered.

At the April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union ...

Helping Teenagers Deal with Prom Night Stress

April 18, 2018

Prom can be one of the most exciting times for your teenager but at the same time one of the most stressful. 

It can also be very stressful for parents as they prepare themselves to accept that their teenager is graduating and soon going away to school, while planning a weekend away after prom night. Going to the Shore for the weekend or somewhere overnight has become more of the ...

Hypertension Clinic Scheduled for May 8 at the Scotch Plains Public Library

April 26, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ --  The township nurse will be available at the Scotch Plains Public Library for blood pressure checks on Tuesday, May 8, from 10:00 a.m. until noon. No registration is required.

The Scotch Plains Library is located at 1927 Bartle Ave., one block from Park Ave. in the center of town.