Whether serving in leadership positions in space, missile or information technology fields, Col. Kimberley Ramos has a deep appreciation for her 30 years in the U.S. Air Force.
But as she prepares to retire, she counts the last four years as commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 157 on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach Campus as her most rewarding.
With 250 to 350 cadets on board at any given time, she has enjoyed “watching them grow, develop and mature.”
“You watch students walk in the door who salute with their left hand or can’t tell their right from their left and then four years later, they walk out the door prepared to go into the greatest Air Force in the world,” said Ramos, who also teaches a preparation for active duty course to the cadets.
A private retirement ceremony for Ramos is planned for July 26 at the Jim W. Henderson Administration & Welcome Center, although she’ll remain on through Sept. 8 during a transition period.
Arriving Aug. 1, Col. Jason E. Patla, commander of the 2d Weather Group, 557th Weather Wing, at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, has been appointed the new commander of AFROTC Detachment 157, which is one of the largest in the country and one of the top pilot producers for the Air Force, with the exception of the Air Force Academy.
At the ceremony, Retired Brig. Gen. Timothy P. O'Brien will present Ramos with her third Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.
Ramos’ honors during her three decades of service to the nation also include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; the Joint Service Commendation Medal; the Joint Meritorious Unit Award with one oak leaf cluster; the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters; the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster and the Combat Readiness Medal.
In the four years at Embry–Riddle, Ramos has not only commissioned a record 143 cadets as second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force, but has increased alumni serving as mentors to cadets.
As the first woman commander of the AFROTC detachment 157, which includes students from Embry–Riddle, Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona State College and the University of Central Florida-Daytona Beach Campus, she’s been focused not only on producing more flying officers compared to other detachments, but increasing women cadets. The percentage of women is currently about 14 percent.
She’s hopeful a new partnership she has established with Stetson University will increase those percentages.
During her 30-year-career, Ramos broke many barriers in the Air Force as being the first woman on various assignments. She was the first woman deputy commander for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, Minuteman III at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, and the first woman commander for Bravo Company, Joint Communications Support Element at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
Today, she said, opportunities are endless for women to serve, including combat which the Defense Department opened at the end of 2015.
“When I look at where we were and where we are today, we are on an upward trend,” Ramos said. “All the legal and policy barriers have been removed, now it’s just up to women to realize all these opportunities exist.”
Diversity in all areas, not just when it comes to women, she said, is essential.
“We need different thought processes and ideas to make the best decisions,” Ramos said.
Karen Gaines, Ph.D., professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said Ramos has been an excellent leader and role model for students.
“Her high standards and dedication to her cadets have placed them in the most sought-after placements after commissioning,” Gaines said. “I know many of our female students – ROTC and civilian – valued her time here as a great example of how women can achieve greatness at the highest levels.”
Prior to Embry-Riddle, Ramos served as the director of communications and chief information officer for the Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. She was responsible for operational policy, strategic guidance, planning and programming, and information management while supporting more than 684 reserve units, which included 43 flying wings and about 70,000 personnel.
Always appreciating the concept of being a part of something greater than oneself, Ramos was commissioned in 1988. In addition to Robins Air Force Base and MacDill, she’s held a variety of leadership positions including commanding the 65th Communications Squadron at Lajes Field in Azores, Portugal; the 336th Training Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi; and the 82nd Mission Support Group at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.
During her retirement, Ramos plans to teach online courses she helped develop on cyber security for the Embry–Riddle Worldwide Campus. A personal passion for birds and habitat restoration, she also plans to volunteer with the National Audubon Society’s local chapter and the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach. She will also be available to speak at various military events and civic organizations in the community, when needed.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit erau.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.