CHURCH POINT, La. (KLFY)– A Church Point native is amongst more than 5,000 sailors serving aboard the self-contained mobile airport, known as the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Petty Officer 2nd Class and Church Point High School alumnus Mandi Daigle joined the Navy 14 years ago and now serves as an air traffic controller.

Daigle credits her Louisiana upbringing for the skills and values she’s been equipped with to excel in the Navy.

“Growing up in Louisiana taught me to work hard, but that friendships and family are more important,” Daigle said. “The life that hard work can get you is not as important if you don’t have people to share it with. You need to have people to give you a steady foundation and support. This also helps you work harder.”

Daigle pursued the Navy because of her grandfather and recollects the narratives he would share about serving in the Navy, but he was not the only one who was involved in the military in her family.

“He used to tell us stories about the Navy and how he got his tattoos,” she said. “He told us all about the ports he went to and the friends he had. My family also has a heavy military history and that influenced me a lot. My mom, dad and other grandfather were in the Army and two of my uncles were in the Navy. My younger brother is in the Marines and is a Purple Heart recipient.”

The United States is celebrating 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy this year. In 1973, the first eight women began flight school in Pensacola, Florida, and six of them, known as “The First Six,” earned their “Wings of Gold” one year later.

Over the span of five decades, the Navy has made efforts towards expanding opportunities to serve and leadership roles to women all over the world. Today, you can see women aviators in every type of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft.

Daigle has been able to work her way up and attain various achievements while serving, all in preparation for future endeavors she plans to pursue after retiring.

“I am really proud that I have done my job well for 14 years and have done tons of community service,” Daigle said. “I also completed five years as an instructor in my job and became qualified as a master training specialist. It is a great qualification that also gives you college credits towards a teaching degree.”

“Serving in the Navy means a good future for my family,” she added. “In five years I will be able to retire. That gives me an opportunity to go back to school, travel and spend a lot of quality time with my loved ones. I will get to give my G.I. Bill benefits to my children, which will give them a good start in life.”