November 09, 2022

Congressman Castro Holds Ceremony to Honor Four Women Veterans for Service to San Antonio and the Nation

SAN ANTONIO — Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) held a ceremony to honor four San Antonio women veterans for their distinguished military careers and service on the Military Service Academy Nominations Board for the 20th Congressional District of Texas.

Every year, Congressman Castro receives dozens of applications from students seeking a Congressional nomination to support their admission to a U.S. military service academy. As part of the nomination process, a panel of local veterans interviews each student and provides Congressman Castro with recommendations on their character and qualifications.

On November 10, Congressman Castro will submit tributes for the official Congressional Record of the United States to honor four women veterans who served on his nomination panels: 

  • Lieutenant Colonel Olga Custodio, U.S. Air Force
  • Commander Sherri R. Zimmerman, U.S. Navy
  • Major Serafina De Los Santos, U.S. Air Force
  • Major Erika Gonzalez, U.S. Air Force

During today’s ceremony, Congressman Castro presented statements of recognition to Lt. Col. Custodio, CDR Zimmerman, and Maj. De Los Santos. Maj. Gonzalez was unable to attend but will receive her Congressional Record at a later date.

“San Antonio is proud to be home to thousands of veterans who worked tirelessly to protect and defend our nation,” said Congressman Castro. “As Veterans Day approaches, I was glad to honor Lt. Col. Olga Custodio, CDR Sherri R. Zimmerman, Maj. Serafina De Los Santos, and Maj. Erika Gonzalez for their trailblazing careers and their commitment to the community. As members of my Military Service Academy Nominations Board, each of these outstanding women have helped San Antonio students pursue their dreams of serving our nation. It is my privilege to enshrine each of their accomplishments in the official Congressional Record of the United States Congress.”

Left to right: Maj. Serafina De Los Santos, Rep. Joaquin Castro, Lt. Col. Olga Custodio, and CDR Sherri R. Zimmerman.

Background on the honorees

Lieutenant Olga Custodio, U.S. Air Force, 2018 Military Service Academy Nomination Board

Lt. Col. Olga Custodio served 24 years in the U.S. Air Force and is the first Latina to complete the Air Force’s Undergraduate Pilot Training, where she graduated in the top five percent of her class with a qualification to fly the T-38 as an instructor pilot. During her service, she received an Aviation Safety Award for superior airmanship for her handling of an engine failure in-flight emergency.

After transitioning to the U.S. Air Force Reserves, Lt. Col. Custodio became the first Latina commercial airline pilot for American Airlines and was upgraded to captain. Today, Lt. Col. Custodio is retired with over 11,000 flight hours and is a speaker and community leader. She serves on the board of several nonprofit organizations, including the Latino Pilots Association, Order of Daedlians, Dee Howard Foundation, and Women in Aviation Alamo City.

Lt. Col. Custodio lives in San Antonio with her husband, Edwin. They have two children, Marcia and Edwin II, and one grandson, Jedi. 

Commander Sherri R. Zimmerman, U.S. Navy, 2018 Military Service Academy Board

CDR Sherri R. Zimmerman enlisted in the Navy in 1993 and quickly distinguished herself as a talented leader. In 1994, she enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated four years later with a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a commission as a Cryptologic Officer. She attended the Navy Cryptologic Division Officer training in Pensacola, Florida and later graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California with a Master of Science in Space Systems Operations.

Over her 20-year career, CDR Zimmerman served on military tours within the United States, England, and Iraq. After retiring from Active Duty in 2017, she joined USAA as the Military Affairs Service Academy Relationship Director. She lives in San Antonio with her family and is a proud mother to her sons Orion and Declan and her daughter Eala.

Major Serafina De Los Santos, U.S. Air Force, 2019 Military Service Academy Board

A native of Brownsville, Texas, Maj. Serafina De Los Santos started her military career in 1977 by enlisting in the Air Force. After her early career in the Air Force, she received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and joined the Army as an Officer. Ten years later, Maj. De Los Santos earned a Master of Science in Management/Logistics Management at the Florida Institute of Technology. In 1999, she attended the Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas.

In 2004, Maj. De Los Santos began her civil service career at Fort Sam Houston. She currently serves as the Executive Director for the 502d Force Support Group (FSG) at Joint Base San Antonio, which includes JBSA-Randolph, JBSA-Lackland, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, and JBSA-Camp Bullis.

Major Erika Gonzalez, U.S. Air Force, 2020 Military Service Academy Board

After graduating magna cum laude from St. Mary’s University, Maj. Gonzalez obtained her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She returned home after completing 10 years of Active-Duty Service as a Medical Officer in the U.S. Air Force.

Maj. Gonzalez is currently the CEO and President of both South Texas Allergy Asthma & Asthma Medical Professionals (STAAMP) and STAAMP Clinical Research. She also founded the nonprofit, Con Corazon SA, to address inequities and emergency preparedness in San Antonio and the surrounding area. Maj. Gonzalez previously served as the Chief of the Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology division at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. She was also an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.

Maj. Gonzalez was selected as a 2019 Presidential Leadership Scholar and was appointed by President Joe Biden to serve on the National Medal of Science Committee.