(Washington, DC) – Friends of the American Latino Museum (FRIENDS) announced today that among the honorees at the 2019 annual American Latino Influencer Awards (ALIAs) will be Lieutenant Colonel Olga E. Custodio, the first Latina military pilot in the United States Air Force (USAF). She will be recognized with the Valor Award, an award that honors Latino and Latina veterans whose sacrifices for our nation and our freedoms embody the legacy of Latinx military service in America. Lt. Col. Custodio will be honored during the event ceremony on Friday, December 6, 2019 at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. 

“Lt. Col. Custodio is a hero, a trailblazer and a role model for Latinas and all Americans,” said Danny Vargas, Chairman of the FRIENDS board. “Her career broke racial and gender barriers, rising in the ranks of a male-dominated profession with dedication and a fighting spirit. It is our duty and honor to present her with the Valor Award for her significant contributions to our community and the nation.”

“We are proud to recognize Lt. Col. Custodio for her historic achievements and ongoing commitment to uplifting women in the military,” said Estuardo Rodriguez, President and CEO of FRIENDS. “She is an example of the countless generations that have fought for our nation dating back before the War of Independence. As she flew over glass ceilings and all manner of obstacles, her story will serve to inspire the next generation and all Americans to do the same.”

Turned away from flight school because she was a woman, Lt. Colonel Custodio went on to break barriers as the first Latina to complete USAF military pilot training, first to become a USAF pilot, and later, as the first Latina commercial pilot for American Airlines. Now retired, she is an active charter member of the Women Military Aviators Association, a member of Women in Aviation International and the Order of Daedalians. In 2017, she became the first Latina inducted into the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame.

Presented by Target and AARP, with support from Charter Communications, the ALIAs recognizes Latinos and Latinas who have had a significant impact on our nation’s culture and society and whose stories are representative of the contributions of our community throughout American history. The event will take place on Friday, December 6, 2019 at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills. To attend, purchase tickets for the event here. For more information on the ALIAs and FRIENDS, please visit https://americanlatinomuseum.org/.