The cold weather and rain could not keep the smiles off the faces of Staff Sgt. Raquel Caramanno and her 412th Medical Group leadership as she prepared to jump into the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon Jan. 12, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Last July, the Medical Readiness noncommissioned officer in charge was announced as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2016.
Among the many accolades Caramanno received was an incentive flight in an Air Force plane of her choice. She took off in the fighter jet piloted by Brig. Gen. Carl Schaefer, 412th Test Wing commander.
“The incentive flight was an absolutely amazing and once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Caramanno. “General Schaefer and I flew in an F-16 for about one hour. We flew around the local area and were able to see some spectacular views of the area surrounding Edwards AFB. It was cloudy and raining when we first took off but we were able to get above the weather and once we did the views were simply breathtaking.”
She said Schaefer explained the procedures pilots must take before, during and after the flight, which really helped her grasp just how critical the mission is at Edwards AFB.
“Being medical, I did not realize all of the training and procedures pilots must go through just to do one flying mission. There’s so much coordination going on, both in the air and on the ground, with many different personnel involved. Overall, I am very honored to have been afforded an incentive flight with General Schaefer and will never forget the adrenaline rush I experienced that day.”
Dozens of exceptional Airmen across the Air Force are nominated each year and Caramanno, was selected through a competitive process based upon leadership, job performance, self-improvement, personal achievements and community involvement.
Caramanno is responsible for the wartime readiness of all members assigned to the 412th Medical Group. As the unit deployment manager, she prepares members for every stage of deployment and assists in their transition back home. Additionally, it is her responsibility to train 17 medical contingency response teams and manage the $1.1 million in War Reserve Materiel.