TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – With his feet firmly planted and his eyes fixated toward the sky, a then 4-year-old Senior Airman Andres Castillo, 6th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, watched as aircraft crisscrossed the sky during a local airshow. In that moment, he witnessed the profession he wanted to dedicate his life to – the profession of arms and of flight.
Seventeen years later, from the very same flightline he stood on as a child, Castillo now serves as a KC-10 Extender in-flight refueling specialist, tasked with pumping thousands of pounds of fuel to a wide variety of United States and coalition aircraft, while flying thousands of feet above the ground.
Born in El Salvador, Castillo and his family moved to California at a young age. For the Castillo family, military service functioned as a calling to the many family members. Castillo credits his drive to serve in the armed forces to his father, who spent six years as a C-130 crew chief.
“Growing up, my dad always talked about how he wished he could go back,” he said. “He got out before I was born, but he always told me how lucky I am to have a flying job.”
After moving around Northern California, Castillo’s family settled down in Fairfield, California, just down the street from Travis Air Force Base. He eventually joined Fairfield High School’s Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps as a way to better prepare himself for his goal of enlisting in the United States Air Force.
Prior to even graduating high school, Castillo signed up for enlistment at the age of 17.
Since being assigned to the 6th ARS roughly two years ago, Castillo has lived out his childhood dream, “flying and traveling to places I never thought I’d go.”
“My profession as a boom operator is imperative to the security of ensuring global reach and power for the United States of America and its allies,” said Castillo.
Although his duties are primarily conducted toward the back of the aircraft, Castillo has always been drawn toward the cockpit.
“I’ve always wanted to go to OTS (Officer Training School) and become a pilot one day,” he said. “It has always been something that I've been wanting to do and I feel like I can be a good asset.”
Even during down periods of extended sorties, Castillo hangs out in the cockpit and watches what the pilots are doing.
“I think the position I’m in is going to help a lot toward becoming a pilot one day,” said Castillo. “I get to interact with them on a daily basis and see all the behind mission planning that goes into every flight.”
Still young within his Air Force career, the journey for Castillo has already come full circle. From the day he stood on the Travis flightline as a boy, gazing skyward toward his future aspirations to today, where he now serves as that Airman in the sky, he continues forward toward his dreams.
“I want to do this as long as I can,” he said.