By Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield, 150th Special Operations Wing
/ Published December 10, 2020
Chief Master Sgt. Pena is surrounded by his family, all members of the New Mexico Air National Guard. From left, son Airman 1st Class, Sefe Aragon, 150th Security Forces Squadron, daughter, Staff Sgt. Lindsey Aragon, 150th Operations Group, and nephew, Airman 1st Class Brandon Carrejo, 150th Operations Support Squadron. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Ian Beckley
Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Peña, from Belen, N.M., joined the New Mexico Air National Guard TACOs in 1989 and went on to achieve the highest enlisted rank possible. During that time he has served in many different positions and leadership roles.
His next challenge? He was recently tapped to be the next superintendent for the 150th Mission Support Group.
Peña grew up in Los Chavez and Belen, N.M. where he excelled at sports while attending Belen High School. He played on the varsity football, basketball and baseball teams.
“My plans were to attend U.S. Air Force Academy where I was recruited to play basketball. Having only my father at the time (his mother passed when he was three), I pursued in-state college instead,” said Peña.
While making plans for his future, two of Peña’s friends from Belen, the late Senior Master Sgt. Raymond Hidalgo and retired TACO Tech. Sgt. Danny Hawkes, talked to him about joining the NMANG.
“They assured me this would be a great opportunity and a chance to enhance my future while still fulfilling my dream of having the Air Force still in my family,” said Peña.
After following in his father’s footsteps of serving in the Air Force, many of Peña’s family members are now following his lead of serving in the NMANG. His daughter, Staff Sgt. Lindsey Aragon, 150th Operations Group and nephew, Airman 1st Class Brandon Carrejo, 150th Operations Support Squadron, joined more than three years ago. His son, Airman 1st Class Sefe Aragon, 150th Security Forces Squadron joined as a high school senior.
“He graduated high school in May, returned from Basic Military Training and technical training in October. That was a proud family moment,” said Peña.
Through Peña’s service, and now his family’s continuation of that service, the legacy of the NMANG TACOs will continue for at least another generation.
“The legacy of the NMANG stands for itself, since the TACOs are known throughout the world. Having deployed under the name TACOs, and the respect of this unit, has always gratified me and made me feel proud to belong to a long heritage of members left before me. A person that once thought ‘I’d try it for six years,’ can now say it’s been a great part of my life for more than 31 years,” said Peña.