Piloting POTUS Across DC and Around the World

Marine Corp. Captain Charlene Thoreen poses in front of a helicopter.

In the latest installment of DC Gigs we meet Marine Corps Captain Charlene Thoreen based in Quantico, Virginia. If you live around the Washington region you’ve probably seen her before, flying overhead in the black and white helicopters used to carry the President. Marines call the helicopters “white tops.” The rest of us call them Marine One.

Thoreen says her job is never the same, and that’s part of the appeal. The HMX1 squadron is the largest in the Marine Corps, with about eighty pilots. That’s because they support the President wherever he is in the world, and as Thoreen explains, there’s more to that than you might think. For example, HMX has to disassemble the helicopters to transport them overseas, and it takes several days to get them back together again.

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Immigrants Fear it Will Get Harder to Send Money Home

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Somali-American women at a fundraiser in Falls Church, Virginia. The proceeds will be sent to Somalia via a money transfer service, as the other option is to fly there with cash. There are no banks in Somalia.

A remittance may be the most common financial transaction you’ve never heard of. That’s what it’s called when an immigrant sends money to someone living in another country. More than a million immigrants call the D.C. region home, and the Inter-American Development Bank estimates 90% have made one of these money transfers. Last year, global remittances were valued at $530 billion.

While using a money transfer service is just as legal as using an ATM, because it involves cross border transactions to places like Somalia, there’s a perception of risk. That’s led some banks in the US and Europe to close the accounts of remittance companies, which in effect shuts them down.

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