A Hidden White Hat, Hero
by U.S. Air Force Darrius Parker, Materiel Command
October 19, 2019
The Air Force has a history of revealing a hero within people.
Some are remembered while others are soon forgotten. It is not the
memory of those heroes that matter most; it is the actions those
heroes take and the people they influence that matters.
term “white hat” describes a person who goes beyond to care for
others ahead of themselves and make a positive difference in the
world around them. In other words, “white hats” are heroes.
Rey Febo’s actions in his life have affected many people for the
better. The Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) has great people, but Febo is
one of AFMC’s hidden white hats.
August 13, 2019 - Rey Febo, a
recognized “white hat” hero, is a systems engineer at Air
Force Materiel Command. AFMC has given him the ability to
grow professionally and personally in the past 10 years of
service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Darrius Parker, Materiel Command)
People come from all over to
join the Air Force family, regardless of background or personal
history. Febo epitomizes what it means to be an Airman.
and raised in the mountains of Comerio, Puerto Rico surrounded by
coffee and tobacco farms, Febo turned to the military as a way to
obtain better opportunities for his future.
He enlisted in
the Marines Corps., serving 10 years in logistics and later as an
embarkation specialist and unit chief. Eager to learn as much as
possible about his duties and how they affected the larger mission
picture, Febo sought out additional opportunities to train in ways
to help him assist others. He specialized in airborne operations and
deliveries, marksmanship, close combat, combat water survival,
jungle survival and land navigation while functioning as a nuclear,
biological, and chemical training supervisor and armory chief prior
to separating after 10 years of active duty service.
Following his retirement, Febo returned to school to study
engineering, an area that peaked his interest as a Marine when he
would perform precise calculations on cargo loads. He obtained both
his bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from
the University of Puerto Rico. While studying, he participated in an
internship at the Air Force Research Laboratory that would change
Through the Minority Leaders Research
Collaboration Program (ML RCP), Febo began a career as a researcher.
The AFRL established the ML RCP to bring together talented young
students such as Febo from across the United States to network and
collaborate with government scientists and engineers. It is a great
opportunity for bright young students to shine.
funding some cool research at my university in an area I knew
nothing about. After a summer internship, I decided to change my
graduate studies to the critical technological area and become a
full time employee as a researcher upon graduation,” he said.
Febo developed a prototype during his research activities that
eventually flew on an unmanned aerial vehicle. This experience wet
his appetite for finding new ways that he could leverage his
knowledge and skills for the Air Force mission.
Febo has now
served 11 years in AFMC in a wide variety of positions. He is
currently a systems engineer at the Systems Engineering Division and
Technical Management Directorate, a position he says enables him to
use the expertise he has accumulated over his career to execute the
mission while bringing a fresh perspective to counteract “this is
how we’ve always done it” mentalities.
“This opportunity has
helped me to gain a worldwide perspective on how our capabilities
and readiness affect our National Security postures and internal
resource allocation,” he said.
According to Febo, the
work-life balance offered by civilian service has also given him the
opportunity to give back to the community.
Febo has always
felt a need to give back to his community, both on a professional
and personal level. He has participated in a number of recruiting
events on behalf of AFMC to attract new young and creative minds, so
that others may benefit from the same opportunities he has
benefitted from throughout his career.
Along with his
partner Darybel, he co-founded the 18th Parallel Relief, a
non-profit organization formed with the goal to assist Puerto Rico
after the 2017 hurricane. Since that time, his organization has
expanded in scope to help communities following natural disasters
such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and the most recent tornadoes
“We started to raise awareness, and working with
bigger cities such as Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton,
we’ve raised close to one million pounds of goods. We worked with
other non-profit organizations to help with the deliveries to Puerto
Rico. Then we went there for three weeks to help deliver to the
mountains and regions where there was no access. We also teamed up
with a non-profit organization from Florida to perform search and
rescue missions,” he said.
The skills and teamwork mindset
that he developed as a Marine and an AFMC employee transferred to
his ability to help the organization and the people who needed him
most. Febo also explained how they gained support through social
“Finding those resources would be impossible without
those new technologies. It turned out to be the best tool to reach
out to the community at large over in the United States,” he said.
For Febo, the greatest benefit he has received from AFMC is
the opportunity to grow as a person and a leader. Before arriving at
AFMC, he had only military experience in logistics and training. Now
he has the ability to discuss and provide feedback on requirements,
research and development, intelligence capabilities, and policies
that affect the larger Air Force mission.
here at AFMC and the Air Force have provided me the chance to
develop a career, achieve life balance, have a family and maintain
that ultimate dream so that I could experience things that were out
of my reach when growing up,” he said.
When Febo does not
have his white hat on, he finds enjoyment in competing in races. He
has competed in triathlons, marathons and ultra-marathons. The
farthest race distance he has competed is the Mohican 100-mile trail
run here in Ohio.
“My life keeps me busy and can be very
intense, but it is also very rewarding,” he said.
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