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Army Veteran Appreciates the Thanks on Veterans Day, But Most People Don’t Know She Served

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Always up for an adventure, Heather Sterzick - Dirkson met us in the tangled jungle of an Edmond hedge.

She runs a landscape business with her husband called Freedom Lawn Care.

"You would think we would be slowing down this time of year," she says from the middle of a large bush.
"But we're really not."

But Heather is also a part-time commercial pilot and a former manager at the Sundance Airpark.

"It's almost like you're juggling," she smiles. "Do you ever feel like that?"

She started the flight school there.

Pre-flight walk arounds and hanging around airport hangars is where she feels most comfortable.

"Yes," agrees Dirkson. "Aviation will always be near and dear to my heart."

Her grandfather, father, and brothers were veterans.

Heather joined the Army straight out of high school and right after 9-11.

Her first choice was air traffic control.

The Army sent her straight to South Korea, then to Iraq.

Sgt. Sterzick went to air assault school and dodged a few rockets during her deployments.

5 years later she was a different person, she says a better one.

Heather says, "It was a great opportunity to learn those life lessons you need to learn as an 18-year-old. When I got out at the age of 23 I felt very grown up."

The campaign medals and pictures, the certificates and ID badges are things she keeps in a box at home.

She carries the experiences with her all the time.

"Mutual respect is the biggest thing I learned in the military," she says.

Heather doesn't mind that a lot more people recognize her for regular appearances on the reality show 'Airplane Repo'.

"I don't call myself a TV star," she laughs.

But she still appreciates the thanks for her service when they come.

After all, her service served her pretty well too.

"It's really overwhelming how much support we have," she says. "I feel very appreciated."

Dirkson is the Oklahoma Chapter president of a women's pilot organization called The 99's.

She currently flies for the American Jet Charter service.