When the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing needed an intelligence officer for a six-month deployment to Iraq, Senior Airman Paul C. Dangelo volunteered.
"I went into the Guard for the educational benefits, but I also wanted to serve," now-Staff Sergeant Dangelo explained. "I was hoping for an opportunity and the opportunity came. I kind of wanted to go because what's the point of having all the training and not being able to use it?"
Earlier this month, Staff Sergeant Dangelo was named the 2008 Airman of the Year by the Ohio Air National Guard during a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.
A 2005 Perrysburg High School graduate, the 22-year-old is now a full-time student at Ohio State University with a dual major: international security and intelligence studies and Latin American studies.
After graduation, he said he may seek a career with the U.S. Air Force or, if the opportunity is available, work for a government intelligence agency.
Unlike many of his classmates at Perrysburg, he is not graduating this spring because of the path he chose, joining the Air National Guard right after graduation.
"I got out of high school and two weeks later, went to basic training then I had technical training, so the first year my peers were in college, I was in Guard training," Staff Sergeant Dangelo explained. "The following year I was at Ohio State. The year after that, I was overseas in Iraq and now I'm at Ohio State again as a sophomore, but credit-wise, I think I'm a junior."
He's received numerous awards during his 4 1/2 years with the Guard: the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
He comes from a military background, he said, explaining that his father was a career U.S. Coast Guard officer and helicopter pilot. Because of that, Staff Sergeant Dangelo was born in Pensacola, Fla. and lived in Detroit, Houston, Miami, and Atlantic City before moving to Perrysburg halfway through his freshman year.41.54923 -83.61034