GUARNG: Aguigui Leads the Way for Females in the Guard

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Guam – In a matter of a few weeks, Lieutenant Colonel Esther J.C. Aguigui made history, becoming the highest ranking as well as the first female to take command of a battalion-level unit in the Guam National Guard. 

Maj. Gen. Benny M. Paulino, The Adjutant General of the Guam National Guard, spoke very highly of Lt. Col. Aguigui.  “She is a proven leader!  She has held many challenging positions throughout her career that have allowed her to excel and showcase her many talents and abilities to get the job done.  I have no doubt she will continue to move the Guard forward.”  

[Official Photo-Major Esther J.C. Aguigui – (Photo courtesy of the Guam National Guard)]  

Aguigui began her military career in 1985 as an Information Management Specialist in the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 44th Aerial Port Squadron.   In 1996, she transferred to the Guam Air National Guard’s 254th Civil Engineer Squadron, becoming the first and only female to take on the role of First Sergeant.   After 13 years as an Airman, Aguigui started a new chapter in her career by transferring to the Guam Army National Guard where she received a direct commission as a Second Lieutenant.

The various assignments she’s held include Family Assistance Program Coordinator; Aide de Camp to Major General Paulino; Commander of the 294th Military Intelligence Detachment; the Senior Intelligence Officer for Task Force Pelican, Joint Task Force, during relief efforts of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.  She deployed to Afghanistan from 2006 to 2007 serving as Deputy, Senior Counterintelligence Officer for Joint Special Operations Task Force and Liaison Officer to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force.

She also served as the Secretary of General Staff for Major General Donald J. Goldhorn, former Adjutant General; S3 Operations Officer for the 105th Troop Command and Commander of the GUARNG Element – Joint Force Headquarters, with simultaneous duties as the Chief of the J1 Casualty Branch.

“She’s a people-person,” said Colonel Roderick Leon Guerrero, Chief of Joint Staff, Guam National Guard.  “She knows how to deal with people and handle situations that most would not even want to touch.  She gives a lot of herself to ensure Soldiers and families are taken care of.  She is deserving of this promotion,” he said.

A week after her promotion, Lieutenant Colonel Aguigui stepped forward to assume command of the Guam Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion – the first female to command a battalion in the Guam National Guard.

“This is significant milestone,” said Maj. Gen. Paulino.  “Lt. Col. Aguigui is an excellent choice to assume command of this fine organization,” he continued.  She is a highly skilled and competent officer whom I know I can entrust with the leadership of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion.  She is truly the gold standard of command,” Paulino added.  

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[Lt. Col. Esther Aguigui, center, takes command of the Guam Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion as she receives the guidon from Maj. Gen. Benny M. Paulino, The Adjutant General of the Guam National Guard, left.  Looking on is Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Ishmael.  (Photo courtesy of Maj. Josephine Blas, PAO, Guam National Guard)]

“There are so many people that have helped shape who I am today,” said Aguigui, while making remarks during her promotion.  She thanked Maj. Gen. Paulino for opportunity to command a great organization filled so many talented people.  “I owe a debt of gratitude to my former supervisors and personal mentors – thank you for the many lessons, encouragement and guidance throughout these years,” said Aguigui.  “No words can express, no act of gratitude can relate, no gift can represent what my family’s love and support has and will always mean to me.”

“To the men and women who make up the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, I am extremely proud and humbled to have been selected as your commander,” Aguigui continued.  “We must act with candor and integrity to earn the unquestioning trust of Soldiers and Families.  We must commit to employing our rank and positions not to serve ourselves, but to serve this island and country.  And most of all, we must practice physical and morale courage, and inspire these qualities in others by our example.”

Prior to assuming command of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Lt. Col. Aguigui relinquished command of the GUARNG Element – Joint Force Headquarters to Maj. Manuel Duenas.