Editor’s note: Some of the largest military bases in the country are right here in Eastern North Carolina. WNCT’s Claire Curry and Cheyenne Pagan cover several of them: Camp Lejeune, New River and Cherry Point. They are highlighting the service men and women for their dedication to our country during the month of April with stories about some of the military members who stand out.


JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Whether up in the sky or back on the ground, Capt. Reilly Sullivan enjoys her time as a pilot at New River Air Station.

“Things change often,” Sullivan said. “So I don’t really have a set schedule. But that’s the fun part of this job is I don’t know what next week’s going to look like necessarily.”

Before getting in the air, she has to suit up and ensure her aircraft is ready for takeoff.

“A pre-flight walkthrough we do, which is just doing a 360 of the aircraft, making sure panels are secured. There’s no leaks for fuel or hydraulics and then everything is in operational order prior to turning on the aircraft,” she said.

Honoring Our Heroes: Cpl. Liam Sullivan

Sullivan said she wasn’t sure if she was going to be a pilot growing up, saying she knew she was going to become a Marine Corps officer before she received her flight contract. From there, she went to basic school, followed by flight school, which got her to where she is today. Now, she loves to pass on her knowledge to a new generation of pilots as an instructor.

Honoring Our Heroes: Marine Robert O’Brien

“Whether it’s studying and doing simulator events, as the instructor it’s cool to be able to see the light bulb go off of connecting the dots on why you’re doing XY and Z a certain way,” Sullivan said.

Honoring Our Heroes: Lance Cpl. Henry Lopez

“Never give up on what you want. You’re gonna have some tough things that you’re going to have to overcome. But with patience, humility, and a will to achieve that goal. Oh, you’re gonna go pretty far,” Sullivan tells young girls who may want to take the skies one day.

She said the people she works with such as fellow pilots as well as the crew chiefs and maintainers are what keep her motivated to keep serving.