Guam native returns during Exercise Cope North 2022
“I remember when I was about six years old and my family and I were driving along the main road on Andersen Air Force Base, passing by the airfield,” he said.
“Looking back, I realize the aircraft I saw was most likely an F-15C under one of the sunshades, and I remember thinking how cool it would be to fly it one day.” U.S. Air Force Capt. Celestino Aguon, also known as “Torch”, an F-15C Eagle pilot with the 67th Fighter Squadron assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan, is a Guam native and was the first member of his family to join the Air Force. Although he didn’t have a plan to join the military as a young boy, he always had a love for aviation which has led him to where he is today.
Aguon was born and raised in Mangilao, Guam. He attended elementary, middle and high school all on the island and then went on and attended the University of Guam to study mathematics. Throughout his time in school, Aguon's love for aviation grew and he began learning how to fly aircraft right out of Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam.
“I got my private pilot’s license and my commercial license here after college and then received additional training out in the states,” said Aguon.
After he received his private pilot’s license, Aguon looked back on the day when he was six years old and dreamed of flying a fighter jet and he commissioned in the U.S. Air Force. Due to his ambition and success during training, he was awarded his very first choice of job as an F-15 pilot in 2014.
Fast forward eight years, Aguon is currently stationed at Kadena AB, and he was selected as part of the team to participate in Exercise Cope North 2022. The exercise is a multilateral U.S. Pacific Air Forces-sponsored field training exercise that is conducted annually at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam that occurred from Feb. 2-18, 2022.
During the exercise, fighter aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force conducted aerial refueling, close air support, and counter-air missions.
“I got to take gas from my cousin, U.S. Air Force Capt. Dustin Alger, who is also stationed at Kadena AB with me, as he was flying his aircraft and I was flying mine - and to do it in our hometown was surreal,” Aguon said.
Aguon stated that he feels fortunate to return to Guam for training such as Cope North since it promotes safety for areas in the Pacific.
“Being here for Cope North 2022, I think of how we are promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific and it resonates for me since that is where my home is, and it’s such a huge honor being part of the team that enables that,” he said.
Over the past three years, Aguon has returned to Guam a total of five times for a variety of exercises and training to include: Cope North three times, Valiant Shield, and a Resilient Typhoon exercise. “It’s been amazing being able to come back and participate in Cope North this year, since Guam is where it all started and it has always been special to me aviation-wise,” he said.
Aguon has served the military for a total of eight years thus far, and plans to continue his career as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force.
“It feels so surreal that 26 years later, here I am flying the jet I saw when I first dreamed of being a pilot,” he said.