At just 26 years old, Colombian Army First Lieutenant Katherine Romero is the first female Huey II helicopter pilot and one of the first women pilot in the institution.
A native of Ibagué in western Colombia, 1st Lt. Romero, from Aviation Battalion No. 5 of the Air Assault Aviation Division, began her military life in the Engineers Corps, with a degree in Military Sciences and a second degree as a logistics manager. Today she stands out as a pioneering woman among her peers.
“It wasn’t easy to pass each of these tests, but in the end, I got to be a pilot,” 1st Lt. Romero said proudly.
“It’s a helicopter that has many functions, many missions, and one of the greatest satisfactions it has given me has been in operational development, in the area of operations,” the officer told Diálogo. “Here in Colombia we have many critical areas, and one of the greatest satisfactions is to enter the operations area and see the joy, knowing that we are bringing support, knowing that after a long time we can get the wounded out of the area, knowing that we are saving someone’s life.”
In late November 2022, 1st Lt. Romero kept up with her training by joining binational exercise Southern Vanguard 23, held at Fort Tolemaida. The U.S. Army South-led, two-week-long training, conducted for the third time in Colombia, aims to improve readiness, security, and capabilities of participants.
This exchange of capabilities favors regional security, increases the capacity to plan, prepare, execute, and evaluate combined exercises not only with the U.S., but also with the region’s armies, to raise the standards to respond to a humanitarian crisis or in case of natural disasters, the Colombian National Army said in a statement.
Some 400 service members participated in Southern Vanguard, using their previous training and experiences to collaborate and execute various exercises including patrolling in dense jungle terrain, reacting to direct and indirect fire, and medical treatment and evacuation techniques. During the final day of training, soldiers from both armies put all they had learned to the test as the conducted a final combined assault operation which included an air insertion with a UH60 and a Huey-II — the latest with 1st Lt. Romero as pilot — and navigating at night through the jungle during a torrential downpour.
A seminar on Women, Peace, and Security was also held as part of this training. The seminar promoted strengthening the role of women within the military, boosting capabilities, while highlighting empowerment and challenges for each of the women during the fulfillment of their mission, the Colombian Army indicated.
“This seminar helps each one to be aware of the mission and that we can all contribute, and we all have to be empowered in order to strengthen the role that we have,” 1st Lt. Romero said.
First Lt. Romero’s goal for the future is to continue flying in the national territory and gain more experience in helping Colombian soldiers, as well as the communities. Likewise, to flourish in her military career as a pilot in command and instructor pilot, “to help pilots who come after me, and with the experience, to teach them as my instructors have taught me, who were excellent,” 1st Lt. Romero concluded.