Nightly News | April 21, 2011
>>> we're back now as promised with a story about an extraordinary young woman , one of the thousands of otherwise perfectly ordinary people far from home serving in uniform. jim maceda spent weeks with them, and tonight, in part two of their lives on the front lines, he brings us the story of the woman warrior doing extraordinary things in the air while so many rely on her on the ground.
>> reporter: the sprint to the flight line. a quick check of weapon systems . and chief warrant officer jessica is in command of her heavily armed apache helicopter , but jest, the only female apache pilot, is far from the stereotypes.
>> i have brown hair , 5'4", don't go to the gimm, don't tell anymore. i'm not supersmart, but i take my job seriously.
>> she lost her job as an aviation mechanic in florida after 9/11, so she joined the army airborne and learned to fly as well as anyone.
>> engage the insurgent with effect.
>> the first to receive her unit's combat action badge .
>> her skills are beyond approach. she's doing amazing things out there.
>> but this top gun phenom who flies an 18,000 pound machine isn't afraid to show the emotions of being a woman in a man's world. like her back pain and kidney problems due to forced dihydration because she can't relieve herself in flight sometimes eight hours. and her emotional pain when she hears a soldier on the radio under fire.
>> you can hear the panic in their voice and the urgency that they want you to help them, and you can't find them. you can't find them, you can't find the people shooting.
>> this proud, some colleagues say fiery fourth generation italian american from ocean side, long island, says she has her own ways of being jess, like painting her pilot's locker pink, or wearing a smiley face on her helmet. a gift from her husband.
>> at least i can hear you from a first time in a while.
>> keeping the marriage in tact has been a battle. with multiple deployments, they have seen each other only about five months in the last five years. josh is busy moving into their first real home, but as usual, jess won't be there.
>> i love you.
>> i love you, too.
>> will this combat chopper pilot ever settle down.
>> an actual, normal, boring life to me is exciting. that would be just as exciting as what i do now.
>> jessica, just an average woman, she says, with ordinary dreams and one extraordinary job. jim maceda, nbc news, afghanistan.