By Kristian DePue | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. — Having previously been awarded Airmen of the Year by the Peterson-Schriever Garrison 2020 Annual Awards, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Giovanni Pacheco, 50th Force Support Squadron command support staff, has been chosen as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2021.
Out of 35 enlisted Air Force nominees considered, a selection board at the Air Force’s Personnel Center ultimately recognized 12 Airmen based on superior leadership, exceptional performance and personal achievements. These esteemed Airmen represent the Air Force’s major commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies and headquarters. They have competed up through several levels, from squadron to MAJCOM — all the way to the Air Force branch level.
The Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon is the highest personal ribbon of the U.S. Air Force, and is awarded to any enlisted member of the Air Force. It was created in 1968 by order of Secretary of the Air Force, Harold Brown — and the first presentation of the award occurred two years later in 1970.
In October, Pacheco will have been with the Air Force for three years.
“I’m [Airman Pacheco’s] direct supervisor, and I think he is amazing,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eboni Bailey, 50th Force Support Squadron career development non-commissioned officer in charge. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen how he takes initiative — he’s willing to help his peers and set an example for others.”
Beyond his direct supervisor, Pacheco is appreciated and well-liked by his team — and has the attention of leadership.
“[And] I am Schriever’s Military Personnel Flight commander, [and] SrA Pacheco is on my career development team,” added U.S. Air Force Capt. Danielle C. Cook. “I work directly with him daily with anything in regards to promotions, assignments, reenlistments and extensions. Pacheco goes above and beyond to help the customers that come into the MPF, and he does it without hope of recognition. He is an extremely humble and hardworking individual and absolutely someone I trust to go to with any and all questions.”
Pacheco was born and raised in the “Windy City” of Chicago, Illinois, and is one of four children, with an older brother and sister and a younger brother. His father works in the electric and gas industries, and his mother is the vice president of a banking branch. Before joining the Air Force, Pacheco was enrolled at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on a full-ride, but zealously worked four jobs.
“In the summer, I would work at a camp as a recreational leader,” said Pacheco. “I would work with youth — a group of around 17 to 20 kids, co-ed. I also worked for a Journey’s shoe store. There’s Journey’s, Journey’s Kids, and Journey’s Underground — I worked at a Journey’s Underground. It’s just a smaller store, but it sounds like we were unlawfully selling shoes under the table. We weren’t.”
Additionally, Pacheco worked for a city council campaign and his fourth job was with an online marketing company.
In college, he was studying business and finance, but felt as though school really wasn’t for him.
“I was performing well, but I was bored and tired of the same old, same old — over and over again,” said Pacheco. “I didn’t feel like continuing with school, but felt that I really wanted to do something with my life. I didn’t have an immediate family member in the Air Force [or military], but I had two cousins who were in the military, and thought, ‘Maybe I should try the Air Force?’”
And that decision seems to have been the right one. With his latest honor, it’s obvious that Pacheco is performing not only well in the Air Force, but exceptionally well, excelling beyond his rank and grade. And being named an OAY means you’ve earned several honors and recognitions along the way.
“You have to win at one level to compete at the next,” said Pacheco. “Everyone’s been telling me how huge and crazy this is, but I don’t think I’ve fully felt it — or realized it yet, honestly.”
He may still be a bit stunned by this esteemed recognition, but it’s not a surprise to others.
“It’s not a shock to me that [Pacheco] was named one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, it was truly deserved,” said Cook. “It shows a lot about his work ethic and drive that he was chosen — only being in the military a few short years. Pacheco would do anything for his teammates, he is one of the most selfless people I have [encountered] in my career. You can see all the work and effort he does, but he makes sure to credit the people around him for their assistance.”
“I love working with him,” added Bailey. “He’s so much fun! He’s full of life — each and every day he comes in. Our office is full of hard work, but it’s also full of laughter as well. We have a good time, but we really work hard too in the MPF.”
What does Outstanding Airman Pacheco think of his decision to leave school for the Air Force?
“In the military, I’ve been able to obtain multiple trainings and job opportunities and such, rather than spend four years being a student graduating with no real-world experience,” said Pacheco. “And if I do eventually separate from the military, the Air Force is a strong, reputable [background]. One of the most important things that I’ve learned while serving is: No matter where you go, there is always leadership — whether there is a rank to it or not — but there’s always people behind those ranks or those leadership roles. Developing relationships with people, whether they are higher ranking than you or lower, is really valuable.”
Congratulations to Pacheco on this prestigious recognition, and for living up to the Air Force core values of: Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence In All We Do.