MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Stepping out of the norm and tackling a unique challenge can be daunting, especially when specialists are even telling you to give up. This didn't deter Staff. Sgt. David Hinojosa, a 35th Communications Squadron cyber transport technician, though, in his support of COPE Tiger 2019.
“During the exercise, I set up radio antennas, tended to virtual private network issues and troubleshot computer programs, but I wanted to contribute more than what was expected,” explained Hinojosa. “Making a difference is important to me.”
Despite warnings that a communication fly away kit wouldn't work at the exercise location, Hinojosa was the first Misawa Airman to successfully operate the system at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, using two satellite terminals, four computers and a variety of routers and switches to streamline communication abilities.
“The system provided seamless communication between COPE Tiger participants and Misawa AB,” explained Hinojosa. “Not only could we connect using commercial internet providers, but the connection was super fast and very reliable. Access to defense switch network phone lines, personalized outlook email accounts and the Misawa shared drive allowed service members to work more efficiently with Misawa resources at our finger tips.”
Not only did Hinojosa bring the comforts of home to a foreign territory but he reflected on why it’s important to push back when told to give up before trying.
“I was told setting up the CFK would be a waste of my time because prior comm units were unsuccessful on getting the equipment to work,” expressed Hinojosa. "However, pushing past the doubt of others led to my team and me being the first Team Misawa members to successfully operate the CFK."
Hinojosa’s colleague, 1st Lt. Piara Swank, the 35th Contracting Squadron director of business and contracting officer for Cope Tiger 19, added how vital self-development is as a concept.
“Taking chances is important because that’s how we learn and grow as individuals and as a whole Air Force,” commented Swank. “With limited resources and the need to stay ahead of our adversaries, we need Airmen to be bold and figure out solutions and efficient ways to do the mission."
Hinojosa didn't let past failures of others deter him, and his determination gave way to being recognized and coined by Gen CQ Brown, Jr., Pacific Air Forces commander.
“I feel honored to receive such a high level of recognition,” said Hinojosa. “I hoped to be a positive representation of Team Misawa during COPE Tiger, but I never expected to receive recognition, let alone from the general.”
Like Hinojosa, Swank reflected on both his accomplishments and the team's.
“Hinojosa demonstrated outstanding commitment to duty and went above and beyond his tasks for COPE Tiger,” expressed Swank. “We had outstanding communication support throughout the exercise, and I am thankful for him and his team’s hard work, dedication and support.”
The story of the Air Force can be told as a history of innovation. Since 1947, Airmen have used their unique perspectives to win the fight and shape the future. Now Hinojosa can add his name to the list of Airmen who took a small step to address a big challenge, sharpening the 35th Fighter Wing to be the cutting edge force our nation deserves...even after being told it wasn't possible.