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California Guard officer a 'role model' to all women

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith | National Guard Bureau | March 20, 2009

p>ARLINGTON, Va. - Department of Defense leaders last night described a California Air National Guard medical officer as a "role model" in the place where the nation honors its best and brightest women in military service.

Air Force Lt. Col. Susan Pangelinan from the California Air National Guard was awarded a DoD Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Role Model Award for her accomplishments in those disciplines.

The event was held here at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

Pangelinan is among more than 150,000 other women serving in the National Guard and Reserve. But officials here said they believe she is someone all women can look up to.

The event also honored nine other servicemembers, who have worked toward the development of women and minorities in foreign languages and the STEM fields. It coincides with the nation's programs, ceremonies and activities that observe women's history this month.

Officials said Pangelinan distinguished herself as a medical advisor to the California Guard's Joint Force Headquarters.

In 2002, Pangelinan joined the California Air National Guard after serving as an Air Force medical administrator in the active duty and Reserve. She is an Operation Desert Storm veteran, who deployed to the Pentagon following the aftermath 9/11 to help manage medical resources in its response.

The lieutenant colonel said the award reflects the benefits she gets from preparing the nation's Soldiers and Airmen for a variety of state and federal missions.

"All the things that I do for the military and the National Guard are really a privilege for me," she said.

More recently, Pangelinan served as the medical operations officer during last summer's wildfires in her state. She reported injuries, tracked medical supplies and supported military responders as part of a multistate, multi-agency disaster response mission.

The Guard's efforts had thousands of Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen and their equipment fighting the wildfires in central and northern California.

As a STEM awardee, she said such large efforts require a balanced knowledge of technology, engineering and math to comprehend the challenges and plan a response.

"It's not so much what you know, but it's more your ability to apply what you know in such situations," she said. "I do that using science and math to access the environment."

Pangelinan was born at an Air Force base, grew up in a military family, and said she learned firsthand the efforts of women in the military like those trailblazers honored at the women's memorial.

"It's an amazing honor to be recognized here," she said.

Officials here said Pangelinan also encourages junior officers and enlisted members to pursue advanced degrees and professional military education and serves as the sounding board for women who face challenges in their military careers.

"Today, it's a matter of showing women those opportunities in the military where skill is more essential now than anything else," she said.

Other award winners were Army Lt. Col. Felicia Langel; Army civilian Christina Brantley; Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cheryll Hawthorne; Navy civilian Camille Destafney; Marine Corps Maj. Denise Garcia; Air Force Maj. Ramsamooj Reyes; Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Andrea Lynn Sacchetti; DoD civilian Irene Nehonov; and DoD civilian Julie Harmon.