Pathfinder wins USAFE-AFAFRICA FGO of the year

  • Published
  • By Airman Adam Enbal
  • 501 CSW/PA

U.S. Air Force Major Sylvester A. Fernandez de Castro, 420th Air Base Squadron (ABS) officer, was recently confirmed the USAFE-AFRICA winner for the 2023 field grade officer (FGO) of the Year Award recognizing his outstanding accomplishments in the Air Force.

Fernandez de Castro was selected among eight United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE) wings for leadership and involvement in the military and civilian community.

Despite all the challenges of working out of a geographically separated unit, Fernandez de Castro sailed against the wind to ensure support, planning and execution of many sizable missions.

“The leadership he displayed was adaptability,” said Master Sergeant Michael T. Barbato, 420th ABS logistics readiness flight superintendent. “The nature at RAF Fairford is that you have to be adaptable and that’s what he is.”

Fernandez de Castro arrived at RAF Fairford in 2021 and was one of 12 permanent members.

“There was a very small footprint of people meshed together by PCS’s (permanent change of station),” said Barbato. “Because of that, we were forced to understand each other and the limitations we have to still make the mission happen.”

Barbato said Fernandez de Castro is a very personable leader. He is a known mentor and motivates his troops to pursue their goals in and outside of work.

“The award really motivates the people who are going to come after I’m gone,” said Fernandez de Castro.

With over 10 years of service, one deployment and numerous temporary duty stations under his belt, Fernandez de Castro said his goal is to get into the foreign affairs officer career field.

“He’s passing down the legacy of being a catalyst, starting something from scratch,” said Barbato. “Knowing that something needs to change and being that person to make that change.”

Reflecting on the hurdles and dedicated work Fernandez de Castro said he is ready for the next chapter and passing the torch.

“This award is really just a testament that says we are doing good things,” said Fernandez de Castro.