301 FW MDS pharmacy tech dispenses service, mentorship

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeremy Roman and Staff Sgt. Randall Moose
  • 301st Fighter Wing public affairs

The 301st Fighter Wing Medical Squadron is comprised of numerous sections and their motto--One Team, One Fight--points to the ultimate goal of keeping their Airmen healthy, ready and in the fight. One of those sections is charged with the responsibility for interpreting, filling, and distributing prescriptions to ensure Airmen are educated and responsible when using their medication. Tech. Sgt. Godfrey Santillana, 301 FW MDS pharmacy technician, is one of those professionals whose training and hard work directly impacts Airmen health but his story didn’t begin within this career field.

“Initially, I joined the military simply because my father served. I was living with him while he was stationed in Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany,” said Santillana. “I enlisted in 1993 as a radar and attack systems specialist for the F-15E.”

Santillana enjoyed much of the maintenance mission including the challenges of overcoming aircraft repair difficulties as well as the rewarding feeling of knowing he directly had a hand in meeting sortie deadlines. He witnessed history as the first female fighter pilot was assigned to his 555th Training Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. and saw his impact on the flight line every day.

Santillana left Active Duty in 2000 and began a civilian career working with Texas Instruments as a metrology technician where he would measure, test and calibrate instruments for precision and accuracy. However, he felt the need to return to military service using his expertise in a different career field to ensure the Air Force Reserve’s greatest assets perform just as well.

“After I witnessed countless veterans injured in Iraq during that time, I decided I wanted to help them recover,” he said. “So, I reenlisted as a Traditional Reservist 301st Fighter Wing pharmacy technician in 2009.”

Santillana has served in many situations and has navigated many hurdles in order to meet the wing’s mission—to train and deploy combat-ready Airmen. However, a COVID-19 environment presented a formidable obstacle for medical squadrons to combat for various personnel at home and abroad.

“I think the biggest challenge I’ve ever had was my deployment to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in 2020,” he remembered. “There were so many things happening at home as we prepared to leave. There was the pandemic, our kids were remote learning, and civil unrest. I was just so fortunate to have a supportive spouse who ensured I would not have to worry about anything except my safety.”

In addition to helping military members both nationally and internationally, the 301 FW MDS regularly partners with Veteran Affairs locations to provide pharmacy services for veterans.

“When I work with these veterans, I enjoy listening to their stories and I have befriended many Airmen, soldiers, and sailors,” he said. “It is a great way to help those who sacrificed so much for us. It is a very rewarding experience.”

With over 18 years in the military, Santillana shares what he’s experienced and why mentoring others is so important to him.

“I tell incoming Airmen to take charge of their careers, to stay involved in their training, and to make efforts to communicate with their leadership because of the connection and resource differences between the Reserve and Active Duty,” he said. “As a Traditional Reservist, you only see each other once a month and I’ve seen many junior enlisted Airmen fall to the wayside when it comes to their training and enlisted performance reports. So I always tell them to ensure they are completing their tasks and remind them to push their supervisors to review their training. Never be afraid to challenge the status quo, to take ownership of their careers or to speak up for themselves.”

His path—a radar and attack systems specialist, transitioning to a pharmacy technician, then becoming a metrology technician before being promoted to equipment engineer on the civilian side—may seem unconnected to some but seems to fit Santillana. Whether it involves a fighter jet, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors or Airmen mentorship, he takes a resource and inspects the process, improves the accuracy and precision in order to bring about the best possible outcome.

“As I reach the end of my military career, I have made lifelong friendships and feel pretty good about where I am at. I will probably retire within the year,” said Santillana. “From there, I plan on just enjoying motorcycle rides with my friends.”

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