Command and Control Airman wins Air Force-level award, commission

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  • By Michele Donaldson

For many, winning an Air Force-level award would be the highlight of their year, but for one Airman, the award was just the icing on the cake.

Tech. Sgt. Victoria Vazquez was recently named the U.S. Air Force Command and Control Operations Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

“It’s been a really great year,” said Vazquez, “When I was informed of this award, I was already reeling from my selection for commissioning.”

In addition to receiving the NCO of the Year award, last fall, she was chosen for Officer Training School as an Air Battle Manager and is currently awaiting her reporting date.

“Waiting is not something I am good at,” said Vazquez.

Vasquez is the child of an Army veteran and has always been patriotic.  She wanted to join the military, “for all the reasons, not the least of which to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

When the job she was interested in in the National Guard did not materialize fast enough, she went to an Air Force recruiter on a whim and ended up as an Air Force Persian-Farsi linguist.

“I loved that job, but it’s a massive squadron, and when I wasn’t on an active mission or in training, it meant waiting for a chance to use my skills,” she said. “And I wanted to do more.”

A pivotal point came with an assignment as a Resilience Training Assistant at the Offutt AFB Community Support Office, where she conducted and organized training events throughout the squadron. She worked with all different types of people at varying ranks and learned that her strength was relating to others.

“That assignment was crucial to my development as a leader and made me realize there was more out there,” Vazquez said.

Later, she retrained in Command and Control, commonly known as Command Post. Command posts are different at every base, but they all adhere to the four main competencies: mission monitoring, emergency management, operational reporting, and emergency actions.

“Most people see the emergency management part of command post duties,” she said. “But, a lot more goes on behind the scenes besides the ‘giant voice’ everyone knows.”

Operational reporting is a big part of her job, and there are rules and matrices for reporting situations to the AFMC command leadership or the Chief of Staff Air Force.

She also gained experience in policy and procedures, overseeing the manning and deployment cycles for six AFMC bases while working on a new update to the Air Force manual.

Vazquez stays with the Air Force because of the sense of security she feels for herself and her family and the leadership potential it offers.

“There is always something new to learn,” she said. “The Air Force offers so many opportunities for growth.”

Her OTS assignment as an Air Battle Manager will directly correlate to her current job, as she will provide command and control capabilities to airborne units, specifically the Airborne Warning and Control System while learning new skills.

“I’m excited to be in a rated position where I am at the heart of the Air Force, but still pulling from the expertise I gained  while enlisted,” she said.

Off-duty, Vazquez coaches soccer, and spends time with her wife and son who are anxious to start this new phase. However, no one is prouder of her accomplishments than her team.

“This reflects her expertise, dedication, and leadership impacts in the C2 mission,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Schreiner, Director of Air, Space, and Cyberspace Operations, “We are all proud of her accomplishments.”