Airman of the Year Awardee Spotlight: Senior Airman Edurdo Castillo

  • Published
  • By Maj. Neil Samson
  • 932nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 932nd Airlift Wing recognizes the hard work and dedication of its 2023 Annual Award Winners.  In this spotlight article, we are highlighting Senior Airman Edurdo Castillo, 932nd Security Forces Squadron.

What did having your name announced as the winner for Airman of the Year for the 932nd AW mean to you and what was your initial reaction?   

It honestly meant a lot. I have been volunteering and trying get out of my comfort zone and trying to make myself the best Airman I can be to my unit and overall, the Air Force. 

What inspired you to join the Air Force, and how has your journey led to this remarkable achievement as the Airman of the Year for the 932d Airlift Wing? 

I had struggled to get out of my shell growing up and really putting any effort into anything. I also lacked confidence in myself and accountability. I remember seeing Airman that were currently enlisted catch my attention the way they carried themselves and spoke.  They were confident, making me realize they were what I aspired to be. I was 21 at the time and the youngest of five siblings and a child of an immigrant mother who raised us alone. I always felt indebted to such a great country that has given me opportunity and wanted to be a contribution which was to serve in the Air Force and make my mom's sacrifice worthy. It took baby steps for me to start making these changes into my life since the day I arrived at bootcamp. I know to continue to make myself a better Airman and aspire to reach my full potential.  

Can you share a specific experience or project that you believe contributed significantly to your selection as Airman of the Year? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them? 

I love volunteering on active orders when available and needed. The hands-on experience I attained at different locations while working on flight has allowed me to get very knowledgeable at my job. I've learned so much from great noncommissioned officers and Airmen. The biggest challenge I faced working with active-duty security forces was having to keep myself humble and allow brand new Airman to train me differently from things I already knew. As Senior Airman, I was allowing a brand-new Airman lead and take charge to allow them to build confidence and realize I was there to be helpful. Also showing NCOs I take pride in what I do in my job was helpful. I wanted to make sure they knew they could count on me, and I am not there just to backfill, and by demonstrating I am physically and mentally capable in helping with overall base security and made sure the flight chief and supervisors saw I was confident I could lead in the protection of multi-million-dollar aircraft and Department of Defense personnel. I also remember correcting an active duty Senior Airman during a guard mount training and showing that Reserve Citizen Airmen can integrate with our active duty counterparts.  I overcame the challenges with the approach that I would exceed standards and able to represent the 932nd pridefully.   

As Airman of the Year, what message do you hope to convey to your peers and those coming up in the ranks about dedication, excellence, and service? 

I really hope I inspire my peers as they inspired me. As I have already talked to a few new Airmen at our unit and have stated the biggest thing is to be patient towards the effort you put in, and don't give up and keep putting your 100 percent every day with anything you do. My mom taught me to be the best I can be in what career I chose or temporarily chose, so if it meant being the best janitor, or Airman, it meant being the best I could be and wake up every morning prideful to put on the uniform and give my 100 percent effort.

How do you balance your duties and responsibilities within the Air Force with personal growth and development? Any tips for maintaining such a high level of performance and commitment? 

Time management, sacrifice, and trusting and believing in yourself. Having to wake up every morning with eight to nine hours of sleep and having my week planned out with my gym routines, work task, and setting up my clothes and everything I will need for the next day. I was also taught to make short term and long term goals and put dates for when I want to accomplish those.  For example, I had to lose weight and I wanted to lose 30 pounds, so I started my day with going to the gym and then heading straight to work afterwards, which made me feel better overall about myself and calmed my anxieties and stresses. I realized quickly with the goals I set that I wasn't going to have time for myself somedays.  I honestly hated it at first, but with time and patience as I saw results in personal growth, I started not caring about things that don't help you grow like video games. I set real expectations on myself to reach my goals in a realistic expectation. We all want to do everything and accomplish all our goals in a short period of time when that is very unrealistic.  We need to take it goal-by-goal and be patient with yourself. Also having your support system being there for you helps a lot as well.

My wife has been supportive and believed in me throughout my military career and for that I am grateful. She helped me realize I had to trust myself and believe in myself to be more confident with choices and changes I chose at work and for myself.  

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals within the Air Force, and how do you plan to continue making a positive impact on your unit and the broader Air Force community? 

I aspire to be part of the special operations community.  I entered the Air Force to become more confident and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I chose Security Forces because of discipline and how proudly they carried themselves. I saw it as a stepping stone for me because I wasn't either of those things before I joined. I have grown as a person because of my supervisors and leadership holding me accountable, encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone and overall helping me be more confident and believing in myself.

In my civilian career I aspire to become a teacher while still serving part time in the Air Force, in hopes to mentor young adults and young Airman in the process. I needed mentorship as a young adult and the military fulfilled it. As I kept networking, I have people I can count on, and I want to be that person someday to the future generations of Airman and young adults. I will continue to challenge myself so I can become the person I want to be so I can be the leader I need to be for future generations.