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At home and abroad, an Airman gives back

Capt. Patterson Aldueza stands in front of one of the hangars of Clark Air Base, Philippines, during his Language Intensive Training Event.

Capt. Patterson Aldueza stands in front of one of the hangars of Clark Air Base, Philippines, during his Language Intensive Training Event.

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Airmen who join the U.S. Air Force after being born and raised in a country other than the United States often say that serving in the military is a way to “give back” to their new home. For one Air Force captain, his work not only gave him an opportunity to serve the United States; it also meant being about to “give back” to his homeland.

Capt. Patterson Aldueza was born in the Philippines, and immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 2002. He is an intelligence officer currently serving as the Operations Flight commander at the 369th Recruiting Squadron in Encino, Calif.

The 369th RCS covers a 1.8 million square-mile area that includes southern California, Hawaii, Guam, Japan and the Pacific – and Aldueza’s home country of the Philippines. Aldueza grew up speaking Tagalog and English interchangeably – mostly Tagalog with his immediate family, and a hybrid he calls “Taglish” with others. After receiving his commission into the Air Force 2010, Aldueza’s abilities garnered him a spot in the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Language Enabled Airman Program. LEAP is a career-spanning program that sustains, enhances and helps the Air Force use the existing language and cultural skills of Airmen like Aldueza.

LEAP participants undergo intense and continuous development of their skills through a mix of online courses, language immersion events and real-world missions. Aldueza recently traveled to the Philippines for an immersion event, and during the process, was a key part of an effort to make the Philippines and the U.S. safer.

Working directly with Joint United States Military Assistance Group, Aldueza assisted with the transfer of weapons and equipment to the Philippine military as part of the U.S. government’s Counterterrorism Train and Equip Program. Along with one other U.S. military officer, Aldueza provided language support during the actual inventory of equipment as it changed hands. The equipment will enhance the PMC’s counterterrorism capabilities, and help protect Philippine military actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines.

“Coming from the Philippines, I feel like the U.S. has given a lot to my family and me, and joining the Air Force was a way for me to give back for that,” Aldueza said. “But, I’ve felt like maybe I haven’t done much to give back to the Philippines, the motherland, you know? Talking with my counterparts, they told me about how these weapons would be used to fight ISIS, and it made me feel good to know I could help that way.”

In addition to working to assure a smooth transfer of equipment, Aldueza participated in a medical mission, going to a remote area of the country to assist with medical procedures for children, and he also assisted at the U.S. embassy. He says his participating in LEAP is not just good for the Air Force, but also for larger strategic goals.

“One of the Secretary of Defense’s priorities is strengthening alliances with our partner nations. LEAP gives me the opportunity to build relationships in a very credible manner. Language and cultural barriers can be limiting factors, and the way LEAP deliberately develops our abilities enhances our skills and makes us more useful in strengthening those alliances.”

Although Aldueza has enjoyed his time working on recruiting efforts and in the intelligence field, he hopes to become a Foreign Area Officer, and to continue his work in international relations. “Hopefully, being part of LEAP will help give me the chance to achieve that dream,” he said.