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A Lifetime Dedicated to Service: The Eternal Bond of Family

By Staff Sgt. James Bunn

The military is often likened to a family for those who dedicate themselves to its service. This sentiment truly resonates when spending time with Military and Family Life Counselor Janet Escobedo. Despite her grandmotherly appearance, it’s astonishing to learn that she was a pioneer in the Air Force survival training and an accomplished ultra-marathon runner. Her vitality defies her age, exuding a vigor that surpasses expectations.

Reflecting on her unwavering drive and commitment to serving the military, civilians, and families of U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, Escobedo expressed, “I never considered slowing down!” Her arrival in Stuttgart, Germany in 2023 marked the beginning of her role as the MFLC for the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Following this assignment, she transitioned to support the SOCEUR headquarters team in the same city.

Recalling her initial impressions of SOCEUR, Escobedo described sensing both the tension and dedication among the personnel, signifying their deep passion for their work.

Known for her thoughtful gestures, such as offering sweet treats to brighten others’ days, Escobedo left a lasting impact on those she encountered. Army Master Sgt. Kelly Simon remarked, “She had the most comforting hugs and a contagious energy that uplifted everyone she met.”

Among her remarkable accomplishments, Escobedo holds the distinction of being the first woman to complete a 20.5-mile run through the Grand Canyon, from the North Kaibab trail to the South Rim. Nonchalantly mentioning a 50-mile ultra-marathon as part of her preparation, she downplays these extraordinary feats as routine.

Another noteworthy achievement was her completion of the SERE school, where she was honored with a symbolic leather belt buckle from the People’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam for her resilience and perseverance. This recognition, bestowed only thrice in 11 years, underscored her exceptional qualities.

Escobedo’s trailblazing spirit was evident early on when she joined the first all-female Cadet Corps at Virginia Tech in 1973, showcasing her athletic prowess in discus and javelin. Her military career as an intelligence officer led her to various accomplishments, including representing the U.S. in the Continental Sports Conference in Berlin, where she clinched a gold medal in track and field.

During her tenure in Germany, Escobedo played a pivotal role in operationalizing the Battlefield Information and Exploitation System (BICES) during Desert Storm. Her adept negotiation skills facilitated agreements with allied nations to establish the system.

Transitioning to a counseling role at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, marked a significant turning point for Escobedo. Despite initial reservations, a compelling inner voice guided her towards a fulfilling career path focused on helping others.

Following a personal tragedy in 2022, Escobedo made a conscious choice to embrace life fully, recognizing the solace and joy derived from her work as an MFLC. This decision led her back to the special operations community, where her expanded perspective enabled her to empathize with grieving service members.

Lt. Col. Sean Raleigh aptly summarized Escobedo’s impact, stating, “She brought a ray of sunshine wherever she went and her presence will be dearly missed.”

As Escobedo’s journey continues, she emphasizes the importance of facing challenges with hope, love, and a positive outlook. Her legacy within the SOCEUR family remains indelible, embodying the ethos that while military careers may conclude, the bonds of family endure eternally.