Spotlight on Military Child of the Year Recipients – Part 2

April 16, 2024

Episode 316

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We are excited to share this episode on the extraordinary lives of military children who have been recognized as the 2024 Military Child of the Year recipients from the Air Force, Army, National Guard, and Space Force families. Join us as Noelani, Allison, Caleb, and Taylor share their incredible stories of resilience and appreciation growing up in military families. 

This podcast is made possible by generous funding from the Edwards Spouses’ Club. To learn more, visit 

Audio mixing by Concentus Media, Inc., Temple, Texas. 

Show Notes: 

Operation Homefront

Military Child of the Year Award Recipients

Noelani is Operation Homefront’s 2024 Military Child of the Year® for the Air Force. 

The 16-year-old aspiring composer and performer is a junior at Brennan High School in San Antonio, Texas.  Noelani is the daughter of Gail and Air Force Col. Melchizedek “Kato” Martinez, a Purple Heart recipient who served for 29 years and retired in July 2021. Gail died in 2016 in a terrorist attack at the Brussels airport, which left Noelani, then 9, her dad, and three siblings seriously injured.  As a military child who experienced six permanent changes of station, Noelani’s world was broadened.  “It’s amazing to be able to make friends from various places in the world and share our experiences,” she said.  

Allison is Operation Homefront’s 2024 Military Child of the Year® for the Army. 

She learned the value of empathy and began envisioning her future as a pediatric surgeon when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 13. Allison, 18, is a senior at Grafton High School in Yorktown, Virginia.  She is the daughter of Maria and Sgt. Maj. Daniel Candelario, whose military service spans 26 years across the Army, Marines, and Air Force Reserves. Currently serving in Kuwait, Sgt. Maj. Candelario has been deployed for a total of seven years of Allison’s life. Her brother also serves in the Army, highlighting a strong family tradition of military service.  Allison was a freshman when her journey from breast cancer patient to survivor began. The experience, she said, became the foundation of her commitment to shaping a kind, compassionate future.  

Caleb is Operation Homefront’s 2024 Military Child of the Year® for the National Guard. 

He is 19 years old and holds a love of science that has propelled him to already complete three years of college, first at community college then at University of Colorado Boulder (CU), as well as conduct a humanitarian project in Nepal.  He is the son of National Guard Col. Shawn Hatch and Army veteran Marie Hatch. His mother served five years before honorably discharging in 2005 as a captain from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. His father has served since 1999. Caleb has an older sister and a younger brother and sister.  Caleb’s resiliency has shown through the difficulties of 38 months of parent deployments along with his handling of medical issues – being diagnosed with diabetes and celiac disease. His interest in science has helped him cope with his health hardships.  

Taylor is Operation Homefront’s 2024 Military Child of the Year® for the Space Force. 

Taylor, 18, is the daughter of Space Force Col. Mia Walsh and Air Force veteran Mark Walsh. Mark retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2014 from the Air Force after 18 years of service, choosing family stability over continued deployments and separations. The Walsh family has experienced six permanent changes of station throughout their military journey.  Currently, Taylor’s mother is serving in Los Angeles, California, while her father stayed in Arlington, Virginia, so Taylor could finish school. She is a senior at Washington-Liberty High School. Taylor has enjoyed growing roots in Arlington, a city that is home to many service members and their families. 

Full biographies can be found at 

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