Airman remembered for camaraderie

Senior Airman Ericka Engblom: U.S. Air Force graphic  Airman 1st Class Andrew Padilla, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, arrived at Cannon in April 2013.

By Senior Airman Alexxis Pons Abascal

27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

The 27th Special Operations Wing is mourning the loss of Airman 1st Class Andrew Padilla, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, who lost his life in a car crash July 13 in Clovis.

The thoughts of all within the Cannon Air Force Base community, go out to the family and friends of this young Air Commando.

“A1C Andrew Padilla was known as a dedicated, hardworking troop who loved to learn about his job and thoroughly enjoyed life,” said Maj. Clifford Scruggs, 27 SOMXS commander.

Padilla joined the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 6, 2012, and arrived at Cannon in April 2013. His sister was a major factor in his decision to enlist. The Santa Maria, California, native chose the military in order to instill discipline within him and better his life.

“I know my brother had struggles and difficultly adjusting to the military lifestyle at first, but he truly loved what he was doing,” said his sister, Senior Airman Tiffany Padilla, 374th Operations Support Squadron. “He would recount his experiences to me and I would offer all the advice I could — he was always my little brother.”

In his spare time, Padilla loved working out and maintaining proper fitness standards.

“It was the perfect way for him to let go of daily stressors,” Tiffany Padilla said. “He would use the gym to mentally recover from a tough day at work or when he felt he had let leadership even remotely down.”

Padilla was assigned to the AC-130 gunship section as an armament load crew member. He was responsible for loading and maintaining the 30, 40 and 105 millimeter weapons systems on the Spectre and Stinger II models.

Senior Airman Ericka Engblom: U.S. Air Force graphic  Airman 1st Class Andrew Padilla, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, arrived at Cannon in April 2013.

Senior Airman Ericka Engblom: U.S. Air Force graphic
Airman 1st Class Andrew Padilla, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, arrived at Cannon in April 2013.

According to supervision, one of the first questions he asked upon arriving at Cannon was how soon he could deploy. The airman was noted as being adamant about deploying and accomplishing his job whenever and wherever he could.

Tasked daily with responding to weapon system malfunctions and system swap performances, Padilla eventually deployed to Afghanistan the latter half of 2013.

He pushed through and completed Career Development Courses while overseas, returning with what his section chief stated were the skills and knowledge of a seasoned vet — quickly applying that expertise at home station.

Padilla mentored and helped train up newer recruits, consistently tackling tasks no matter how big or small. He relished in the opportunity to enforce the camaraderie between the ammo and armament flights by taking part in planning the inaugural WAMMO Olympics at Cannon.

Leadership mentioned that he was a studious airman, great co-worker and amazing friend who will be extremely missed.

“We didn’t have the best upbringing; my brother kept a lot of our childhood burdens bottled up for a long time,” Tiffany Padilla noted. “It wasn’t until he joined the Air Force that he found structure and motivation for life.”

“He was able to learn how to respect others and himself,” she continued. “He found something he was really passionate about and I’m so happy he was able to share it with all his wingmen.”