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About Orlando

Orlando lives with his fiancée, Frances, in the Euclid Heights section of Saint Petersburg. They have five children between them; Orlando’s daughter, 22, and son, 19; and Frances’ daughter, 20, and sons, 18 and 13.  Orlando has lived in St Pete since 2005.  Frances is a fourth-generation ‘Burger who grew up in an Air Force family and is a Reserve Officer in the U.S. Navy.  Orlando has a B.S. in General Science, and an MBA.

Orlando’s parents immigrated separately from Colombia in the 1960’s. His father came alone at 17, enlisted in the U.S. Army at 18 for three years, and then married, settling in New York City. The couple struggled like many immigrant families, and eventually bought a home on Staten Island, raising Orlando and his younger sister. Both children won appointments to U.S. Air Force Academy and graduated from there.

After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1992, Orlando began his military career as an Air Battle Manager on the AWACS aircraft – the four-engine passenger jet with the black-and-white M&M radar on top. At first controlling fighters like the F-16, he earned promotions to eventually command the 40-person crew and direct the air war in coordination with Army, Navy, Marine, and multi-national forces in the air, sea, and on the ground.  When not flying, Orlando performed a host of duties and held a variety of leadership positions, in areas including aircraft operations and maintenance, personnel readiness, system upgrades and life-extensions, and command of a 70+ aircrew combat organization.  With multiple combat tours under his belt between 1994 and 2003, Orlando is a decorated air combat veteran.

Orlando’s performance garnered him a coveted position at USCENTCOM on MacDill Air Force Base in 2005, and he was soon invited into the command’s strategy and planning community.  Orlando became the command’s expert on missile defense, and led the design, resourcing, and eventual installation and readiness of America’s missile defense ‘shield’ in the Middle East under the Bush and Obama administrations and Generals Petraeus through Mattis.  Orlando’s effective collaboration with the different military services, foreign militaries, Department of Defense and Department of State led General John Allen, newly appointed commander in Afghanistan, to bring Orlando with him in 2011 as a personal assistant (aide-de-camp) and then assignment to the U.S. Embassy as a military liaison.  Orlando traveled extensively throughout Afghanistan in both positions.

Orlando’s personal skills built bridges between America’s military, diplomatic and developmental cultures, as well as with the many foreign military and diplomatic corps helping the U.S. achieve its goals in Afghanistan.  Orlando earned his Bronze Star for his performance as well as his conduct during the September 13, 2011 attack on the U.S. Embassy.  Orlando eventually competed for and won a position on the State Department’s Foreign Service Officer Register, and while never ranked high enough to be hired and appointed, Orlando is still proud of that accomplishment.

Orlando retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012 and remained at USCENTCOM as a contractor supporting strategic plans, policy and operations.  Orlando departed on sabbatical in 2018 and started his own consultancy in 2019. 

Out of uniform, Orlando joined Rotary, becoming club President two years later; became an organizer of the Build the Pier campaign; and supported various political campaigns canvassing and phone banking. His community engagement earned him a slot in the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership St Pete 2015 class.  Orlando currently is a member of the St Pete High School Advisory Committee and is an adult leader in his step-son’s Scout troop.

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Orlando Acosta for St. Petersburg City Council, District 3.
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