CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – Warrant Officer Kristina Multani grabs her flight equipment bag from her locker and confidently strides across the flight line to a UH-60 Black Hawk for her first flight during the 28th rotation of the Kosovo Forces mission.
Multani, who finished flight school in September as the only female warrant officer UH-60 pilot in the Delaware Army National Guard, eagerly embraced the opportunity to deploy to Kosovo.
"I definitely hope to learn as much as I can from every aviator here, because I know each one has something to teach me," said Multani, a UH-60 pilot organic to Alpha Company, 3-238th General Support Aviation Battalion, Delaware Army National Guard.
"As far as being female, it shouldn't matter as much. Maybe there aren't as many of us, but any aviator can do the job."
Multani attributes her can-do attitude to her parents, who came to the United States from Ukraine when she was a baby.
"I know what my family has gone through, as immigrants, adjusting to language, culture, and it showed me how to work hard towards something," said Multani.
"I wanted to join the Army out of high school, but after I built a family and had a daughter, I thought it was too late. Over the years, it kept nagging me as something that I wanted to do. I got to a point that I realized if I don't do this now, I will regret it for the rest of my life," she said.
Multani enlisted as an automated logistics specialist in 2017 but said several warrant officers mentored her and encouraged her to become a pilot following basic training.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jay Falkenburg, senior instructor pilot, was one of several warrant officers career-driven Multani to fly.
"She is career-driven and made it through the pre-selection process quickly," said Falkenburg.
As a warrant officer, Multani serves as a technical expert and adviser to the command for all aspects of aviation.
"Diversity is critical as it brings different perspectives and life experiences," said Falkenburg. "She is a good fit for the organization and already integrates well with other pilots."
For her first deployment, Multani plans to build on everything she has learned. She attributes her drive to succeed to her daughter.
"I want to set my daughter up for success and ensure she doesn't have to experience the same struggles that I did," said Multani. "I want to set her up with college, give her ideas and things that she could possibly pursue in her future."
As for serving on a deployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, Multani maintains her resilient outlook on life.
"I don't let the little things get to me. I focus on the bigger things," said Multani. "I've always enjoyed structure, and am absolutely blessed and thrilled to be here," said Multani.
Multani, is part of the 28th rotation of the U.S. brigade-led Kosovo Forces Regional-Command East mission.
Alpha company is one of the subordinate units to the Michigan Army National Guard's 3-238th Aviation Regiment that will lead KFOR RC-E's 28th Rotation Task Force Aviation.
Working alongside roughly 27 other NATO countries, KFOR maintains a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement through Kosovo for all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origins, under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244.
"It is beautiful here, and I am looking forward to the diversity and opportunity to work with all of our NATO partners from different countries," said Multani.
"When I think about aviation, I want more people like me from different nationalities and women; I love diversity."