Moncayo to attend Warrant Officer School
By 1st Lt. Maria Del Rio, 200th Public Affairs Detachment Commander
SANTA FE, N.M. - Friends and colleagues gathered to congratulate Staff Sgt. Matthew Moncayo on being accepted as a Warrant Officer Candidate June 3, 2018 at the Regional Training Institute.
Moncayo has served over 18 years in the New Mexico Army National Guard and is a highly valued member at the 515th RTI. Although his command team is sad to see Moncayo go, they fully support his decision to become a warrant officer.
"I'm excited to get out there and knock it out," Moncayo said of going to WOC school. "I feel that I've enough done enough time in the supply room that I'm ready to move on to the next challenge."
"We're going to miss him. He is a very competent NCO and he's done great things for our organization while he's been here, but we're also very happy to see him move on in his career," said Col. Daniel Stark, Commander of the 515th RTI.
As the ceremony concluded, friends and colleagues congratulated Moncayo on his accomplishments during his time in service and gave him words of encouragement for his new endeavor.
"During my time as platoon leader and XO with the 920th Engineers, Staff Sgt. Moncayo always gave me the support I needed to complete any mission and had answers to any questions I had and I will always appreciate the help he gave me," said 1st Lt. Maria Del Rio, the commander of the 200th Public Affairs Detachment. "The best qualities warrant officers can have is one that supports the mission, supports the officers and takes care of the lower enlisted and Moncayo does that consistently."
The U.S. Army celebrated 100 years of Warrant Officer service on July 9, 2018. The Warrant Officer Corps makes up only three percent of the U.S. Army forces. These technical experts take many years to develop their area of expertise in any field ranging from medical and dental to supply and maintenance.
Warrant officers guide and train Soldiers to meet the high demands of the U.S Army. Candidates are sent out to Ft. Rucker Ala. where they have to endure over six weeks of mentally and physically challenging training to receive the rank of WO1.
To find out more about Warrant Officer School or about what Warrant Officers do, please visit: https://usacac.army.mil/organizations/cace/wocc/courses/wocs
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Welcome to the NMNG, Pfc. Lope!
Aquino signs out from his military career
By Joseph L. Vigil, Chief of Public Affairs, NMNG
SANTA FE, N.M. - Lt. Col. Valero Aquino, Jr. signed out from his military career at his retirement ceremony June 29, 2018 at the Regional Training Institute. The former armor and signal officer, who was last assigned as the command inspector general for the New Mexico National Guard, served for over 24 years in the U.S. Army. Aquino completed his distinguished military career working with the NMNG, the same organization he began his career with as a simultaneous membership program cadet while attending New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell.
Maj. Gen. Ken Nava, the Adjutant General of New Mexico who presided over the ceremony, gave thanks to Aquino and his family for the opportunity to host the ceremony here.
"Val has been an incredible addition to our team," Nava said. "With his incredible background in communications, he saw gaps in our organization and he was very quick to help us. He has gone far beyond what an IG should be doing to help us. Val is always willing to help out and we appreciate him."
Nava thanked Aquino's family for their sacrifice and said he knows it has been very difficult to be separated from Val while he has served all over the world and been away very often.
"This is an opportunity for us to thank you as well," Nava told the family. "You have served our nation just as he has. You are a very special family and we are glad that he will now be reunited with you in Oklahoma."
Nava told Aquino that with his impressive resume - working in the White House with President Barrack Obama - he should not have any problem finding work in Oklahoma.
"Thank you for your work here," Nava said to Aquino as he presented him with the TAG coin. "You have left us in a better place than where we were. You worked extremely well with Loretta, doing great things on both the Army and Air side, taking to heart the needs of the Air Guard. Thank you for all the incredible work you have done for the New Mexico National Guard."
As IG, Aquino supported over 4,000 Soldiers and Airmen in over 25 communities in New Mexico, providing assistance to Soldiers, Airmen, commanders, civilian employees and retirees to help solve issues and problems.
For his tireless work throughout his career, Aquino was presented with a Presidential certificate of appreciation, the Legion of Merit, a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Army chief of staff, a certificate of appreciation from Governor Susana Martinez, a New Mexico state flag, a letter of appreciation from The Adjutant General and a flag folding ceremony held in his honor. His wife, Dr. Jodilyn, was presented with the Army spouse certificate of appreciation and his children with Army Brat awards for the support of their loved one, their patience and understanding of his absences and the many family moves.
Aquino was also awarded Signal Corps' prestigious Bronze Order of Mercury for demonstrating high standards of integrity and a high level of competency. Nava said Aquino is the first signaler in New Mexico to receive the high honor and helps us pave the way for other signal folks in New Mexico to earn that award.
Other New Mexico Soldiers echoed Nava’s words of praise and appreciation for Aquino. Col. Tom Gonzales, the G3 said that during Vigilant Guard, Aquino was an active participant and played a big part on the IT side despite not having a role in the exercise. On behalf of the warrant officers, CW3 Joe Sanchez thanked Aquino for sharing his knowledge with us. Maj. Raymond Chung, the master of ceremonies, called Aquino very knowledgeable, very humble and said he really enjoyed working with him. Sgt. 1st Class Rachel Ramirez said it was great working with him and appreciated his wealth of knowledge he shared at all levels.
As Aquino took center stage, he humbly thanked everyone for sharing this special moment with he and his my family.
Aquino took time to reflect back on his career, all the way back to his accomplishments in high school JROTC. He credited that early experience for joining the military and said he always loved being a part of something bigger than himself. He said that noting significant experience led him to joining the ROTC program at NMMI; the NMNG as an SMP cadet in C Battery, 1-200th ADA, Hobbs, N.M. and the U.S. Army.
“After I left Roswell, I thought I would never come back to New Mexico,” Aquino said. “21 years later I would be back in New Mexico serving on active duty status. After starting my career in New Mexico and finishing it here, it is only fitting to have this ceremony here in Santa Fe.”
Aquino said he has great respect for the National Guard mission and how we protect citizens during natural disasters, emergencies, counter drug missions, civil support teams and deploying overseas. He said he also admires the deep sense of family and how close everyone is here - something you don't see on active duty.
“I had the honor of serving in prestigious units in my active duty career, but the start was a bit turbulent,” Aquino said. “My first assignment was with a division cavalry unit with a massive logistical tail. My new squadron commander, who was a war hero from Desert Storm, took us on staff ride to Normandy which had a tremendous impact on me and made me proud to serve. But after serving as a tank platoon leader, I was reassigned as the S4 log officer for this massive squadron and my NCO was gone to school, which I think set me up for failure. I was fired by my squadron commander for not being an expert in log and at that time I felt like such a failure for letting my commander down. I did not have the experience, but that failure still drives me to do my very best every day and it made me realize that every officer needs a good NCO to get the mission done.”
Aquino said that while Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster did fire him, he recognized his talents in communications and helped him transfer to the Signal Corps and thanks him for helping him to serve as a signal officer which led him to serve for the Commander in Chief at the highest level. Aquino also served in Korea and as a Signal officer for the 82nd Airborne.
“I will always remember my three years at the White House Communications Agency which was the pinnacle of my career,” Aquino said. “It was amazing to be able to provide communications to the President and know that every meeting he attend and every event was historic. My last Presidential trip was to my birth country, the Philippines and my last stateside trip was to me hometown of San Diego.”
Aquino said he is extremely proud of his wife Jodilyn for completing the long path of med school, studying 11 years while raising their first born and is now practicing as a family physician. Because he kept moving as an active duty officer, she stayed close to home in San Diego and then with her parents in Oklahoma. Because of his call to duty, they have been physically separated for about 19 years and during all the time, he said she took care of the kids and made sure everything was always taken care of.
“Our family separation is now over and I get to go back home with you to Oklahoma,” Aquino told his family. “I thank God for keeping me strong with my faith which helped us get through the separations. Thank you Jodi for your support, for keeping me motivated and keeping me grounded. I thank my parents for their support and my in-laws for helping raise our kids while I was gone. To my kids and little girl Genevieve who always asks when I am going to be able to stay home for good, I am going home for good.”
Aquino thanked his friends that inspired him throughout his career, saying there were too many to name.
“To my New Mexico National Guard family, it has been a pleasure to serve with you again,” he said. “Loretta, it has been a pleasure working with you helping Soldiers and Airmen. General Nava, thank you for being a great and understanding boss.”
Aquino said he enjoyed his military career and would not change any part of it. He has been able to see the world and be a part of history.
“I salute the past, present and future Soldiers of the greatest Army in the world,” Aquino said. “As a signal officer, I would like to make one final transmission. "This is Lt. Col. Valero Aquino Jr, Out!"
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A video tribute to the New Mexico National Guard's historical service to our state and nation. "Legacy of Honor... Siempre Adelante."
Special thanks to Vinny Stenerson for his great work and dedication to helping us tell our Soldiers and Airmen's story.
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