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By Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow, Peterson-Schriever Garrison
/ Published December 04, 2020
Tech. Sgt. Ana Afonso, Space Delta 2 plans division non-commissioned officer-in-charge, talks about her hobbies and interests at Peterson Air Force Base, Nov. 24, 2020. She loves landscape and macro photography along with traveling and spending her free time with her husband, her Nebelung cat named Kirito and a Chiweenie named Cori. (U.S. Space Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow)
Tech. Sgt. Ana Afonso, Space Delta 2 plans division non-commissioned officer-in-charge, talks about her hobbies and interests at Peterson Air Force Base, Nov. 24, 2020. She loves landscape and macro photography along with traveling and spending her free time with her husband, her Nebelung cat named Kirito and a Chiweenie named Cori. (U.S. Space Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow)
Born in Galveston, Texas, and the second in her family to serve in the U.S. military, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the plans division in Space Delta 2 decided to join the U.S. Air Force in 2011 and later re-enlisted into the U.S. Space Force earlier this year.
Tech. Sgt. Ana Afonso, who spent some of her growing up years at her mother’s home in the Philippines, explained she didn’t know who she was, but knew she couldn’t figure it out on a small island.
“I wanted to see the rest of the world and travel,” Afonso said. “Metaphorically speaking, I wanted to live my life beyond the water’s horizon.”
Afonso’s hero and father, Anthony Afonso, served in the U.S. Navy as a ship serviceman. He was the equivalent to a services member in the Air Force.
“In his junior years, he was known for being the best barber,” Afonso said.
Her dad was recently diagnosed with vascular dementia after a stroke, and while he is still fighting against the odds, for the past year he has been losing his memory.
“It has been difficult,” Afonso said. “Sometimes we have breakthroughs where he remembers me, but most of the time he doesn’t. I am definitely my father’s daughter though, and my dad is a strong and intelligent person. I just want to be like him and make him proud.”
Following in her father’s footsteps, Afonso decided to join the military, but not the Navy.
“I never learned how to swim despite living near water my whole life,” she added with a laugh.
As the enlisted manager of the Space Delta 2 plans division, she oversees and coordinates the moving parts of the growing Space Delta, from activating new squadrons to upgrading current weapon systems.
“Every day I attend meetings with high-level space professionals and system engineers, all for the sake of space superiority,” Alfonso said. “My team is always asking, ‘What’s next?’, because [USSF] has just begun.”
Space Delta 2 prepares and presents assigned and attached forces for the purpose of executing combat-ready Space Domain Awareness operations to deter aggression and, if necessary, fight to protect and defend the U.S. and our allies from attack in, through and from space.
“I am part of the Space Delta charged with maintaining Space Domain Awareness, ensuring that our warfighters have a clear picture of the battlefield,” she said. “Our nation’s leaders are asking for the bigger picture and I’m someone charged with providing that.”
Alfonso said she never expected to invest so much of her life into space, but she couldn’t have done it without the support of her mentor, Senior Master Sgt. Juan Lopez, 4th Space Warning Squadron administrative superintendent, whom she met at her first duty station, Buckley AFB, Colorado.
“He has helped me grow into the person and leader that I am today,” Afonso said. “He taught me the hardest lessons in life and made me realize how strong I truly am.”
Afonso explains how she owes her military career and accomplishments to him and his guidance.
“Ana brings a skillset that we need in our Air [Force] and Space Force,” Lopez said. “She has the ability to know what is going on with the members of her team. She clears a path for everyone to follow and ensures to smooth any bumps for her team to channel a direction towards the mission.”
Lopez continued to explain Afonso has the ability to see individual successes and struggles without invading the privacy of people because of her personality and sincerity to care about them.
“She realizes the power of words and how it can motivate others to be better and build on the strong skillset they already have,” Lopez said. “I want her to keep charging because she has become the leader I want to follow, and she needs to make leaders into others you want to follow.”
Another influential person Afonso met at Buckley AFB is her husband, Matt. Although he is no longer in the military, she says his experience has helped them get through their life together.
“Matt has been my rock throughout most of my military career,” she said. “During the longer days or harder times, he reminds me why I am here and then revives my morale with snacks and sweets.”
Afonso says she can’t thank him enough.
Afonso considers herself an extroverted introvert. Her hobbies are more relaxing than extreme.
She loves landscape and macro photography, along with traveling. She spends her free time with her husband, her Nebelung cat named Kirito, and a Chiweenie named Cori.
“Whether staying indoors or going out, it’s always an adventure,” Alfonso said. “We will look up new recipes to try and even have our own cook-offs. We love sightseeing and exploring new cities, state parks, and festivals (before COVID-19).”
Alfonso says she feels rejuvenated and refreshed after spending quality time with her family.
“I think it is important to balance your home and work life,” Afonso explained. “Your family can help you do just that.”
She said she lives by her favorite Serbian proverb, “Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.”
“It reminds me that I am human and everything doesn’t have to be perfect,” she said. “Another way I would explain this quote is to remember that you are flawed, but your purpose is perfect.”
The technical sergeant looks to her future and is currently working on a psychology degree while pursuing her dream to make it a full 30 years in the USSF.
“I’ve always been a prosocial person and wanted to help others,” she said. “But since I’ve been a part of the space community I’ve learned that my actions and efforts and have helped more people than I could imagine.”