349th AMW Women’s History Month Profile: Senior Master Sgt. Vera Bonpua

  • Published
  • By Grant Okubo, 349th AMW Public Affairs
  • 349th Air Mobility Wing

March is Women’s History Month and throughout the month we celebrate the amazing women serving in the Air Force Reserve with the 349th Air Mobility Wing.

Senior Master Sgt. Vera Bonpua, senior enlisted leader, 349th Logistical Readiness Squadron, is one such Airman proudly serving in uniform.

“She is very professional, customer service oriented, thorough and meticulous,” said Lt. Col. Charles Marquez, 349th LRS commander. “Although I’m her supervisor I look at her as my wingman, bouncing things off of her, getting her ideas and perspective.”

Bonpua started her career in the reserve in 1996 as a supply troop with the 55th Aerial Port Squadron, and eventually joined the 349th LRS in 2012.

When she is not in uniform, Bonpua works in her civilian career as a probation supervisor for the San Joaquin County Probation Department.

Bonpua’s experiences and contributions haven’t gone unnoticed. She recently won the 349th Mission Support Group Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year and the 349th Air Mobility Wing Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year.

The award was as a surprise and an honor to Bonpua, who had not expected to be recognized at the wing level. One contribution to her success was the opportunity provided to her with a recent deployment in 2022, she said.

Throughout her career Bonpua credits several people who helped and inspired her. Chief Master Sgt. Teresa Serrano, senior enlisted leader, 349th Mission Support Group, is among those who have made an impact.

“She (Serrano) helped in my growth, and provided me with opportunities, even now she's mentoring me,” said Bonpua. “She's always been there as a support system for me. If ever I needed her, she was always there. I think just being available, being present for me, when I had questions, and invited me to different chief groups … giving me those opportunities to be a part of something, so I can grow within my career.”

Bonpua also attributes a great deal of her success to the opportunities and mentorship from Marquez, who both have worked together since 2004.

“He's actually mentored me and provided me opportunities,” said Bonpua. “If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I'm at now.”

During her career, Bonpua has also witnessed incredible strides towards the advancement of women and for the increased diversity overall in the military.

“I've seen the growth within the Air Force Reserve, especially with women,” said Bonpua. “Not only are there more women leaders, but there are now women pilots. It just makes me proud (of) the diversity in the Air Force, but not only women but just with the different cultures, and the different nationalities that are out there.”

Looking forward, Bonpua hopes to one day pin on Chief Master Sergeant, and to get the chance to pass on the knowledge she has learned to her fellow Reserve Citizen Airmen.

“What I hope to provide to the Airmen within my squadron is to give them opportunities for growth and advancement,” said Bonpua. “I want to ensure they have the proper training, the leadership, the mentorship, and the opportunities out there to be ready Airmen."

One of those Airmen benefiting from Bonpua’s years of experience is Staff Sgt. Pamela Enriquez, logistics planner at the 349th LRS.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from and work with Senior Bonpua over the last two years,” said Enriquez. I see her deal with many difficult situations, dealing with many different personalities and many other challenges, and what I have taken away from that is, how she gives everyone the opportunity to speak and the ability to be heard.”

Bonpua has definitely made a difference throughout her career in the wing.

"I'm successful as the commander in large part because of her (Bonpua) as my squadron superintendent, and our squadron I would say is successful because she plays a very large part in our success,” said Marquez.