She thought about it throughout her senior year in high school, and finally, on New Year’s Eve, after graduating the previous summer, she walked into an Air Force recruiting office and said, “Sign me up.”
“It was New Year’s Eve 1998, and I was living out of my car in Flagstaff,” said Ginell Costa. “I couldn’t find a full-time job. I knew the Air Force could get me out of my situation.”
Costa joined the United States Air Force and was sent to basic training a few weeks later where she said Air Force doctrine was instilled in her.
She was stationed in command and control operations where she helped to track flights, check aircraft, and scheduled flight times as well as air space to keep mid-air or landing collisions from happening.
Costa served as an emergency actions controller in the command posts for various Air Force Bases until she left the service in 2008.
“My work as an emergency actions controller may sound mundane to some,” Costa said, “but it was of extreme importance. My duties included issuing warnings and writing damage assessments on crashed flights. I was tasked with safety of life and aircraft and ensuring all Airmen were accounted for.”
Costa provided Headquarters Air Combat Command with reports amid the attacks on 9/11 and ensured all echelons of command were updated on the Air Force’s response to the attack.
Costa had a short-term deployment during the Kosovo conflict from 1998-1999, and to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, in 2002-2003. She was also stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, Incirlik AB in Turkey, and Ramstein AB in Germany.
During her deployment in Saudi Arabia, Costa helped to set up the Combined Air Operations Center and issued air tasking orders to aircraft assisting in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
While in Turkey, Costa distributed NATO orders to arriving personnel to Incirlik AB, interacted with senior Turkish government personnel, and helped coordinate the transport of Al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees.
Costa was a staff sergeant when she left the Air Force after serving for nine and a half years. She has been raising her family and getting an education.
“I love the military and the camaraderie that comes with it,” she said. “I learned about diversity and that time in the Air Force can open people’s eyes. With 12-hour shifts, I got to know co-workers really well. There are people of all backgrounds in the military, so many cultures.”
After being out of the service for 12 years, Costa is now looking to rejoin. She is looking to use her credentials and soon-to-be-completed degree in cybersecurity to help secure the safety of Air Force Cybersecurity systems.
“It was an exciting life,” Costa said, and I look forward to more adventure and making another contribution to my country in the U.S. Air Force.