Hawaii Airman's Alertness Prevents Potential Crisis

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Roann Gatdula,
  • Hawaii Air National Guard

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii – One of the most junior Airmen in the 298th Air Defense Group was commended by Pacific Air Forces leadership in May for her immediate response to action in a real-world operation.

Airman 1st Class Faith Calaro, 169th Air Defense Squadron surveillance technician, received a commander’s coin from Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, commander of Pacific Air Forces, for her role in demonstrating quick decision-making that helped uphold national security. 

As Calaro settled into her workstation during a routine shift, an unfamiliar radar reading instantly caught her attention. The reading occurred within the first minute of assuming the radar station and her training instincts kicked in immediately, allowing her to flag the discrepancy with urgency. She alerted her leadership of the identified discrepancies, setting off a chain reaction among a highly-trained team of air defense professionals. Validation procedures followed, and her discovery was soon elevated to the regional air operations center and then the Pentagon. 

While these readings may seem like mere blips on a screen to the untrained eye, the small details that go unnoticed can be the difference between life and death.

Air defense agencies have a robust information-sharing network that enables them to immediately relay critical information that threatens national security at a moment’s notice. 

“It’s definitely an honor and privilege for me [to receive this award], but really, it was the crew and leadership,” Calaro said. “I’m surrounded by a lot of aloha spirit yet still challenged to always improve.”

Surveillance technicians like Calaro have a critical role in detecting, identifying, and tracking foreign and domestic aircraft. This entails identifying potential aerial threats in the 298th ADG’s surveillance region, including the State of Hawaii and Guam. They operate and maintain electronic warfare, radar surveillance, and computer systems in a secure location, ensuring that the Hawaii Air National Guard is on alert and ready to engage potential adversaries and helping to maintain air space safety.

Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Trehern, one of Calaro’s senior enlisted leaders, said her initiative displayed Airmen’s capability, determination, and motivation from the 169th ADS. These qualities also showcased the Hawaii Air National Guard’s capabilities to Wilsbach.

“Do not mistake Airman 1st Class Calaro’s humility and subtle demeanor for weakness,” Trehern said. “Her motivation, determination, and no-fear attitude are showcased when she performs her duties with a quiet confidence portrayed by her deliberate and forthright communication skills.” 

Despite only being in the Air Force for less than a year, at 18, Calaro has already taken on a level of responsibility that can impact day-to-day operations. 

A full-time Active Guard Reserve Airman, Calaro attributes her passion for the military to her love for action and military movies. Inspired by action heroes portrayed on screen, she aspires to be that ‘cool person’ who fearlessly takes on challenging missions. She also mentions her father, who once expressed a desire to join the Air National Guard, and now lives vicariously through her accomplishments.

“With current worldly activities or events going on, I believe that our mission is extremely important, we are the tip of the spear,” Calaro said. “The 169 ADS is a hidden gem in the Hawaii Air National Guard and I can’t help but strongly believe in the mission.”

Airmen like Calaro serve as a reminder of individuals’ role towards the mission’s success. Her intelligence and motivation inspire others and show that you’re never too young to make a significant impact.

“I’d like to say that all of this and what I’ve been through so far has all been a miracle and the wonderful work of God,” Calaro said. “He gave me this opportunity and potential to experience a great, positive beginning to my career.”