Caballero named Air Force Diagnostic Imaging NCO of the Year

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Ornelas Jr.
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Staff Sgt. Cassandra Caballero won the 2022 U.S. Air Force Diagnostic Imaging NCO of the Year award, March 1, 2023. 

The award recognizes the commitment to excellence Caballero brings to Vance Clinic every day.

“It means a lot because it shows that I’ve come a long way professionally,” said Caballero, a diagnostic imaging technologist at the 71st Medical Group. “It’s a once in a career kind of award and it keeps me motivated to do more.

“I love what I do. I love being an X-ray technologist and I love being able to help patients,” said Caballero. “Patients come in with back pain, abdominal pain, knee pain and things like that. I get to be a part of the process to help diagnose.”

“She’s a go getter,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Thorne, diagnostics and therapeutics  flight chief at the 71st MDG. “Some people will get here and think that they’ve got a cushy job. But she found additional duties such as group security manager, fitness program monitor and earning certificates.”

What sets Caballero apart from others is she went out and found ways to improve herself as an Airman and get out of her comfort zone, said Thorne. “Caballero went off base and did extra work. The stuff we can’t do here, she took the initiative and went out and found a way to do it,” he said. 

“Because we are a pilot training base a lot of the patients that we take care of are relatively healthy,” said Caballero. So, she went to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center downtown to maintain her trauma skills in the lab by taking X-rays.

“I would say the challenging aspect of our job in general is all the knowledge you need to maintain,” said Caballero. “The misconception of our job is that we just push a button. However, we need to know anatomy, positioning and the physics behind the equipment.”

Radiology is a behind the scenes job, said Thorne. “Doctors rely very heavily on radiology and lab oratory because they can’t do anything with a patient without an accurate diagnostic image. If you do any little mix up, you can affect somebody’s prognosis.”

Caballero works hard at being the best she can be at her medical job. “It was a lot of different things that contributed to this award,” she said. “I really strive to improve professionally and personally. I had a goal to set myself apart, but never did I think I would get an award like this,” she said.

She credits her husband as a great support in all the things she does. “Additionally, my chain of command from my front-line supervisor to the group commander have all been extremely supportive,” said Caballero.