Rachel Samuel

TSgt. Rachel Samuel DeCastro

St. Thomas native TSgt. Rachel Samuel DeCastro is steadily meeting and conquering challenges while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Japan.

According to a released statement, DeCastro recently received her minister’s license from pastors Jeff and Kimberly Little of Destiny Christian Center in Japan and authored a book titled “A heart restored from darkness to light.”

Her accomplishments don’t stop there.

In 2019, she and classmates TSgt. Gregory Pflugh, SSgt. Britany Heybrock, SSgt. Jason Cosio and their Commandant SMSgt. Erik Garza were awarded the Air Force Outstanding Airman Leadership School Team of the Year Award — a No. 1 rank out of 68 schools in the Air Force.

The road to success hasn’t been easy.

DeCastro, according to the statement, faced various challenges upon entering the Air Force after leaving home at 18. Disappointment after training for four months to become a Presidential Honor Guardsman led her into another career field.

The statement noted that faced with adversity, she turned to her faith in Christ to help guide her and “through hard work, dedication, and the favor of God she continued to move up in ranks for the next 12 years in the Air Force.”

The hard work paid off, as she was the No. 1 selectee for a Yokota ALS Instructor position in July 2019. She subsequently was awarded the Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) of the 1st Quarter for the 374th Airlift Wing, a Distinguished Graduate for NCO Academy. Her cadre was officially announced as the No. 1 ALS team for 2019.

Throughout her time at the Air Force, DeCastro hasn’t forgotten her home, and anyone entering her classroom will find the V.I. flag flying high.

According to the statement, her ultimate goal is to inspire those under her tutelage, often sharing personal stories to enforce the importance of letting their voices be heard.

“Don’t waste your seat at the table! You must be driven to make the best out of your military career. Seek ambitious leaders that will hold you accountable and push you forward. Don’t forsake the value of teamwork. You aren’t meant to do life alone, so don’t take your team for granted,” DeCastro is quoted in the statement about the inspirational quotes she shares with the class.

Most importantly, she encourages them to seek a relationship with God.

“He will help guide you in your most trying times,” she said. “Life isn’t about doing things perfectly, but being willing to progress. Continue to see each challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow, so don’t run away due to discomfort.”

DeCastro is the daughter of Gurvin and Beverly Samuel of St. Thomas. She is married to Lashawn DeCastro and the couple has a young daughter, Alaiya.