Misawa defenders aim high and win big

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class China M. Shock
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Three Airmen from the 35th Security Forces Squadron emulated the Air Force’s core value of “excellence in all we do” by standing out amongst other defenders within the Pacific Air Forces.

PACAF awarded top honors to three Misawa Wild Weasel Defenders: Master Sgt. Andrew Contreras, a chief of standardization and evaluations, Airman 1st Class Jessica Carino, an armorer and Airman 1st Class Holly Villalta, a base defense operations center controller.

“From day one of being in the Security Forces career field, we’re taught the bar and expectations are set higher for us,” said Contreras. “We are the first individuals people meet when entering the base and the last ones seen when they leave. We’re expected to not only enforce the law but to do right by it as well.”

These three Airmen demonstrated their ability to do their job and perform at the highest tier as they compete against defenders from other Major Commands at the Air Force level.

Contreras won the Col. Billy Jack Carter Award, named after the commander of the 377th Security Police Squadron stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, who distinguished himself during the Vietnam War. The award honors a security forces member for a specific act, contribution or event.

“I feel extremely honored and humbled to win because this accomplish is a reflection of my team and their ability to work as a cohesive unit,” said Contreras. “No award is won without a team effort.”

Contreras stood out by stepping into a detachment superintendent position while deployed to South Korea, working with individuals from different jobs and PACAF bases.

Carino earned the Elizabeth N. Jacobson Award for Expeditionary Excellence, named after 21-year-old Airman First Class Elizabeth Nicole Jacobson who paid the ultimate sacrifice, becoming the first Security Forces Airman and first female Airman to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A defender earns this award by an outstanding performance during a deployment.

“It takes self-discipline to get the job done and do it well,” expressed Carino. “No matter how much I’m struggling, I make no excuses for myself.”

Carino decided to go to school and volunteer to work the defense biometric identification system while deployed to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. DBIDS is a Department of Defense identity authentication and force protection tool used to reveal the identity of personnel attempting to enter the base without authorization.

Carino explains how she sets the bar high for herself.

“I always want to strive for better things,” explained Carino. “I have a huge passion for my job and will exhaust all effort in doing what I need to do.”

Both Carino and Villalta are two dedicated women with a strong adoration for their jobs, pushing themselves in and out of uniform to achieve great accomplishments in their lives.

Villalta won the Outstanding Security Forces Flight Level Airman award by dedicating herself to her craft, sacrificing time from her personal life to grow and better herself as an Airman.

“My mom taught me to set high expectations for myself, which is how I developed a competitive edge as a child,” explained Villalta. “I want to do good things for my squadron and build a good reputation for myself.”

Villalta’s competitive spirit urged her to be a master of her craft, becoming certified in the positions of installation entry controller, alarm monitor, patrolman and BDOC controller.

She later joined the Security Response Team, which deals with riots, active shooters and emergency response.

Villalta dual-hatted her responsibilities as she enrolled in the Defense Challenge Team, an elite group of defenders who compete in combat-related competitions within PACAF.

“I put in time and effort into my job every day,” said Villalta. “I have to ask myself sometimes, ‘Do I go out and have fun or do something to better my career?’ I choose my career.”

These three individuals embody the Air Force’s core value of “excellence in all we do” by setting the standards high for themselves and their respective units.

“It is good to hear the hard work of Misawa’s Security Forces Airmen did not go unnoticed at the PACAF level during the Chief of Staff’s ‘Year of the Defender,’” expressed Lt. Col. Devin Sproston, the 35th SFS commander. “This is a testament to their hard work and dedication to the Misawa Air Base community.”