Master Sgt. Betsy Bonilla joined the Air Force in February 1998, and for nearly 24 years she has dedicated her life to serving our nation. As a huge Eagles fan, it was only right for Bonilla to retire at her favorite place, Lincoln Financial Field, surrounded by loved ones.
"I was super excited, a little speechless. I feel blessed. I was a little overwhelmed, but just surprised they even allowed something like this to happen here," Bonilla said with a smile.
Bonilla's family and friends traveled from Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and California to gather at the top of the stadium's Pepsi Plaza to watch her official Air Force retirement ceremony on Saturday, November 6. The location made the occasion that much more special. While Bonilla served overseas, the Eagles were always the topic of discussion when she talked to her family. In 2019, Bonilla announced the Eagles' fourth-round draft pick from Dover Air Force Base.
"It's always been a good way to keep my family and friends together, especially being in the military as much as we travel and spend time overseas," Bonilla explained. "Every Sunday the ballgame kicks off and we're like, 'Are you watching the game? Did you see that play?' This was a way to keep the family together and keep in contact every Sunday."
Bonilla has been stationed in over 10 countries, including Germany, Italy, the U.K., Singapore, and Honduras, on 12 different assignments in her military career.
"I have a lot of friends here that are also in the military. Some of them are retired and have gotten out from the other branches, but the Eagles have always been a connector. We all connect through football through the Eagles," she said. "It's our home, and it's where our heart is."
Before the event began, Bonilla and her guests walked through the trenches of Lincoln Financial Field for a private tour. Bonilla was all smiles for her special sunny afternoon ceremony.
On Saturday, November 6, the Eagles and Waste Masters welcomed Air Force Master Sergeant Betsy Bonilla and her family to Lincoln Financial Field to watch her official retirement ceremony.
"I'm just very thankful. The Air Force has given me a lot of opportunities that I didn't ever think were possible," Bonilla said. "I know those opportunities opened a lot of doors for me, but it's also opened doors for lots of my family members and friends where I've been able to help them through as well."
Throughout the last 23 years, Bonilla has received 28 U.S. Air Force awards and multiple recognitions. For Bonilla's final assignment, she served as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the administration in support of the Secretary of the Air Force. This position is appointed by the President and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
When you look at Bonilla's uniform, the stripes and ribbons overpower her blazer, showcasing all the service awards she earned. With all of her awards and accolades, Bonilla is quite the role model for Hispanic women. According to the official United States Air Force website, only 21 percent of the Air Force (nearly 331,000 active duty) are female, and only 16 percent are Hispanic. Out of that 16 percent, just six percent are female. Moreover, only 15 percent of women in the Air Force achieve the rank of Master Sergeant.
Bonilla was very proud to serve our country, and now she is looking forward to retirement.
"My 23-plus years have been amazing. I regret nothing. Even all the crazy stuff I have done," Bonilla chuckled. "I'm super excited to take it one day at a time and enjoy my life."