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LEAP Scholars Support FAMEX-21

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team

Every two years, the Secretariat of National Defense hosts the Mexican Air Defense Trade Show, or FAMEX, through the Mexican Air Force. FAMEX is Mexico’s aerospace trade show with the primary purpose of promoting Mexico’s aerospace industry.

The Mexico Aerospace Fair began in 2015, emerging as an initiative to promote Mexico in the Economic Development in the national aeronautical sector.

For the first time, the United States was designated as the “Nation of Honor” for this year’s event. There to commemorate the moment was a team of Spanish-speaking LEAP Scholars, providing language support for the event through the Air Force Language and Culture Center’s Training Partnership Request.

LEAP Scholars Capt. Hector Perez-Ramos and Tech. Sgt. Elio De Los Santos provided language support to two site surveys in Eglin AFB, Florida, and Queretaro, Mexico leading up to the main event. They were joined by 2nd Lt. Danny Rangel to provide language support at the airshow.

“Throughout the event, the LEAP team engaged directly with the Mexican Military and were given the opportunity to gain an understanding of international trade show bilateral relationships,” said 2nd Lt. Danny Rangel, FAMEX public affairs liaison.  “Our team used language-culture skills to effectively coordinate on behalf of the U. S. Air Force. We worked together to communicate a message of friendship and cooperation to a critical neighbor and partner.”

The LEAP Scholars worked alongside other Airmen and Foreign Area Officers to provide language support to Mexico’s Air Defense Trade Show, such as Lt. Col. Michael McKenzie, Maj. Max Hinton, Operations Lead Maj. Brendan De Brun and AFNORTH POC Maj. Jonathan Skinner.

“The LEAP team did an excellent job in support of FAMEX by liaising and engaging with the Mexican Military,” Senior Master Sgt. Diego Yoshisaki, AFNORTH said. “The coordination between their respective agencies was extremely professional, which earned the trust and mutual cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. Embassy praised the scholars and was extremely satisfied with their level of commitment and professionalism.”

The LEAP Scholars also highlighted their personal experiences in supporting FAMEX 21. Tech. Sgt. Elio De Los Santos provided language and security support for the event.

“The entire FAMEX-21 experience was extremely insightful. The AFNORTH/NORTHCOM and USEMB team did a great job making sure the LEAP team had a great cultural experience outside of work. I was fortunate enough to visit some places in Mexico and learn a lot about the culture. Overall, it was one of the greatest experiences in my military career,” De Los Santos said.

Capt. Hector Perez-Ramos had the opportunity to interact and coordinate support with Mexican officers and enlisted personnel.

“FAMEX 2021 was, without doubt, a unique and fulfilling experience. Although not all interactions were mission-related, every one of them was very rewarding and full of cultural value. I left Mexico very thankful for the professionalism and willingness to work as a joint front that I received from our partner nation, which is a testament to the great relationship and strong ties that we have with Mexico,” Capt. Perez said.

SMSgt Yoshisaki, who worked alongside the AFNORTH team to coordinate LEAP support, praised the LEAP Scholars for their flexibility, adaptability and execution.

“Without the LEAP Scholars’ support, the cross-coordination and tactical level engagement would have been extremely difficult. Being flexible and adaptable to change was key,” he said. “Our LEAP Scholars not only dominated the Spanish language but also were aware of military customs and courtesies. ‘Flexecution’ was pivotal, and these Airmen showcased their professionalism, partnerships and Airmanship with the Mexican military, the Mexican citizens as well as with their fellow Airmen.” Yoshisaki said.

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