From Enlisted Pharmacy Tech To Warfare Ops Officer
by U.S. Space Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Wykes
July 22, 2021
U.S. Space Force 1st Lt. Monica Callan, Space Delta 3 – Space Electronic Warfare, 16th Space Control Squadron electronic warfare operations officer, never anticipated her path as an enlisted pharmacy technician would eventually lead her to becoming one of the first officers in the U.S. Space Force to deploy as a space liaison officer advising U.S. Marines in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theater.
As with many things in life, most plans never work out as they’re written down.
U.S. Space Force 1st Lt. Monica Callan stands in front of a training satellite dish at the Space Delta 3 – Space Electronic Warfare, 16th Space Control Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on June 29, 2021. Callan is a prior enlisted Airman who received her commission after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2018. She is among the first U.S. Space Force officers to deploy in support of operations in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Theater of operations. (U.S. Space Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Wykes)
Hailing from the Bronx, New York, Callan’s plan was to go to college and figure out life along the way. Shortly in to that first journey, she took a detour into the U.S. Air Force.
“I enlisted in 2012 as a pharmacy technician, when I decided I wanted to do something different and I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of college,” said Callan.
Though the military wasn’t initially in the cards for Callan, she received inspiration from her father, a combat veteran who deployed multiple times with both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps from 2006 to 2014.
“My father had deployed a few times as a law enforcement officer to U.S. Central Command, but was eventually returned home after suffering injuries sustained in an improvised explosive device explosion,” said Callan. “Because of his experiences, I saw the military as a bigger team that could challenge me. I wanted to be a part of that.”
After spending a few years in the enlisted ranks, Callan applied to and was accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy. She graduated from USAFA in 2018 and commissioned into the USAF as a space officer, landing her first assignment at the “Top of the World,” Thule Air Base, Greenland. While there, she served as a crew commander on the Upgraded Early Warning Radar, and as the deputy flight commander of mission assurance. She currently resides within the 16th SPCS, where she describes her job as something she never thought she’d get to do.
“Honestly I never thought I’d ever get to work in the space career field,” said Callan. “Growing up it seemed like it was for rocket scientists. It’s been amazing to see my crew members learn and gain confidence in what they do and I love helping them and working alongside them on task.”
Self-described as “wearing her heart on her sleeve,” Callan says the best part of her job is the people she works with.
“It’s really about the people for me and it always has been,” said Callan.
“It’s awesome getting to really be innovative and work hard toward some difficult problem sets that we are all trying to solve together as a team.”
The teamwork ethic that Callan brings to the fight is one of the characteristics that has been noticed by her leadership.
“Lieutenant Callan is an officer with impeccable character and drive to improve the mission and people around her,” said U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Angelo Fernandez, 16th SPCS commander. “She has an uncanny ability to seek out areas for improvement and find solutions to make it better.”
According to Fernandez, Callan performs at the same level regardless of her work environment.
“Lieutenant Callan has done this while in garrison, and deployed and with her work as a space liaison officer on float with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit traversing the South China Sea,” said Fernandez. “Her relentless work ethic and competency solidified a sustainable support for some of our key mission partners in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Outside of the office, Callan says she enjoys working out, taking spin class, hiking and snowboarding, and is ready to try anything that challenges her.
This mentality worked out perfect when she was selected to deploy as a space liaison officer aboard the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Float 21.1, in the USINDOPACOM Theater.
“My time getting to support the 31st MEU is something that I will never forget,” said Callan. “It was kind of like paying it forward since my Dad got to work with the Marines and I’m glad I volunteered for it. It really opened my eyes up to what our sister services do and I am truly humbled by their daily sacrifices.”
Callan also stated, “I hope I can get the opportunity again to do something like this because it is something I will never forget.”
Callan will be carrying her space knowledge and work ethic to her next assignment at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, where she will continue to educate and learn from those around her.
“You never know when someone might come to you with a general space question that might not be what you are an expert in, but for the time-being we need to be better stewards about space and help educate at the appropriate levels,” said Callan. “There’s always something new to learn and I’ll forever be doing that!”
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