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332nd Airman follows family tradition of service and joins the military

26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron

U.S. Air Force Capt. Monique Veneracion, a 26th Rescue Squadron Combat Systems Officer, steps away from the rescue aircraft with her equipment, May 15, 2021. The rescue squadron support operations to save downed pilots of other military members in need or rescue. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jamie Spaulding)

332nd AIR EXPEDITIONARY WING --

The ways Airmen find their way to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing is as diverse as the force itself, some joining the military as a family tradition, others searching for adventure and travel, and some for the benefits associated with serving.

For one Airman that path led from Los Angeles, California to Southwest Asia where she serves at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing.

For Capt. Monique Veneracion, a combat systems officer aboard the HC-130J aircraft, which flies rescue missions from the wing, that path began with a desire to follow in her families footsteps.

“My grandfather was a doctor for the U.S. Army when he was in the Philippines,” she said. “He served under Gen. MacArthur and I know that he marched in the Bataan Death March.”

After serving, he emigrated from the Philippine islands to the United States settling in Hollywood, California. Veneracion said that she was fully immersed in Filipino culture growing up and a significant part of that was helping others and serving something larger than yourself.

“Service and sacrifice is kind of instilled in you growing up,” she said of being immersed in her culture. “You hear all these stories about overseas Filipino workers doing service jobs to send money back to their families and it’s a huge sacrifice.”

She feels that example keenly saying it’s one of the reasons she chose to serve in the military.

“It translates to serving in the military and making a sacrifice,” she said. “The rescue platform—our motto is ‘that others may live’—we are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to get you home, when you are in trouble.” 

Veneracion rides the flight deck of a rescue HC-130J where she gathers information developing an accurate picture covering all of the moving parts of a rescue operation. A process critical to helping bring someone home.

“We have a lot of tools for situational awareness,” she said, going on to say that it’s how the crew stays abreast of the situation and possible threats in the area. “It’s a stressful environment, anything that can go wrong you have to bounce back, and we train for that—we train to be resilient to be able to complete the mission.”

The 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron stands ready to perform a rescue 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. In addition to standing alert for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, they provide tanker capability for the associated HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and can also provide a forward refueling point at an austere location.