NM Air National Guard's 150th gets first female commander

U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (left) poses with with Col. Esther Camacho Sablan of the Air National Guard and her mother, Rita Sablan Dutton on Jan 18, 2018.


By MADDY HAYDEN | The Albuquerque Journal | Published: August 4, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Tribune News Service) — An MIT grad, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilot and decorated combat veteran has added another accomplishment to her impressive resumé: Col. Esther Sablan has been named the first woman to command the New Mexico Air National Guard’s 150th Special Operations Wing.

“One of my most solemn duties as Adjutant General of New Mexico is to ensure our airmen and soldiers have the best leadership I can provide,” said Maj. Gen. Ken Nava in an emailed statement. “I am very proud of the fact that we were able to bring Col. Esther Camacho Sablan to the 150th Special Operations Wing and the New Mexico Air National Guard. She is the right leader at the right time to help us accomplish Gov. Susana Martinez’ mission to get a unit equipped flying mission for the New Mexico National Guard.”

Sablan graduated from pilot training with Kirtland Air Force Base’s 58th Special Operations Wing, which now works together with the 150th.

She comes to New Mexico’s 150th from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where she served as Chief of the Force Planning and Strategic Basing Division of the Air National Guard Readiness Center, according to her Air Force biography.

Sablan served as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded three medals for her service.

The Pacific Daily News reported in January that Sablan was believed to be the first woman from the Northern Mariana Islands — a U.S. territory — to achieve the rank of colonel.

She has also worked as an aerospace engineer and operations research analyst in her civilian career and has three master’s degrees.

Sablan will assume command during a ceremony at Kirtland Air Force Base on Saturday morning.

©2018 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)
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