Valiant Vets: CMSgt(ret) Michelle Castro

by Michelle Castro
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First I want to say thank you to Juan for this opportunity.  I’m proud to say that I joined the retired community on 1 July 2021.  I joined the military for a couple of reasons.  One is because my father ingrained in my nine siblings and me this pride of serving our community and our country.  My father was an auxiliary in our local police department and he spent 30 years in the Army National Guard.  During the Korean War, he was combat commissioned and retired from the National Guard as Lieutenant Colonel. My father did not graduate high school.  My second reason for joining the military, to be frank, I was exhausted.  I was a full-time college student and I worked full time.  I was paying for my education on my own with zero financial aid.  My goal was to complete my education and allow the military to pay for my degree and soon after I accomplished this goal my intentions were to either separate or commission.  I retired from the military with three degrees and decided that I really loved being an enlisted member and set my sites on achieving the highest enlisted rank.  With the grace of God and mentors that God strategically placed in my life, I was able to achieve the rank of Chief Master Sergeant.

My career consisted of various positions.  In my humble opinion, one of the highlights of being in the military is the opportunity to explore different careers.  By trade, I’m a Healthcare Administrator.  However, throughout my 26-year career, I have served as an Executive Assistant to several Generals, Executive Assistant to the highest-ranking enlisted member on the installation, a protocol specialist,  an aeromedical evacuation clerk, Executive Administrator to the Air Force Surgeon General, Joint Medical Observer/Trainer, Superintendent and Group Superintendent.  All of these careers/jobs shaped me into the person I am today.  I have weathered many storms in my career and I truly mean storms in the meteorological sense.  I survived Hurricane Katrina, I will never forget this experience in my life.  It was life-changing, I realized how precious life is, and without communications methods as well as the basic daily necessities you really figure out who you are.  However, with the right leaders in place, any situation can be conquered.  During Hurricane Katrina, I learned the epitome of what blind leadership means, you have to master the art of followership.  I fashioned my career off of the theory that in order to be a great leader you must first be a great follower.

My favorite assignment while serving was Yokota AB, Japan.  Living overseas was an experience that really showed me how far I had come from growing up in a small town in rural Alabama.  I met my husband and some of my closest friends while stationed in Japan.  I loved the culture of Japan, my one regret is that I did not explore the country more while there for three years.

As we all reflect on Veterans Day, I often think about those who sacrificed so much so that I can serve.   It’s not a day off but it’s a day that we honor those who have served selflessly for us and before us.  Take time to thank those who served in the most dangerous environments all for the love of their country and for ensuring that we all have equal rights.

I am an open book and even though I have retired I am open to answering any questions or assisting those who have a desire to serve or who are currently serving.

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