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LEAP Spotlight: Capt. Kenny Maeng

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  • By AFCLC Outreach Team

“I was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to the United States when I was 7 years old. When we immigrated to the U.S. from South Korea, my mom and grandparents always spoke to me in Korean so I would not forget the language. We also celebrated all the important Korean holidays to remain connected with our culture.

“I attended elementary school in Chicago, Illinois, and learned English during my first 12-18 months there. After three years in Chicago, my family and I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, which I consider my hometown. I completed grades 3-12 and a year at the University of Hawaii before joining the military.   

“In 2005, I entered the Air Force as an Air Transportation specialist after completing basic training and technical school at Lackland AFB, Texas. My first duty station was Charleston AFB, South Carolina, where I completed a deployment tour to Iraq. My next assignment was Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA. While stationed at JBLM, I completed my undergraduate degree with Chapman University and deployed to Qatar and Afghanistan.  

“After returning from Afghanistan, I applied for Officer Training School and was selected as a Logistics Readiness Officer. With the completion of OTS, my family and I moved to Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England. After three amazing years in the United Kingdom, we moved to our current duty station at Andersen AFB, Guam, where I serve as the Deployment and Distribution Flight Commander with the 36th Logistics Readiness Squadron.  

“I was introduced to the Language Enabled Airman Program by a friend who was already in LEAP. He told me about the program’s language proficiency opportunities and how I could improve and maintain my Hangul (Korean) language skills for the rest of my career.  

“I became a LEAP Scholar in 2017; so far, I have been able to complete two eMentor courses and two Language Intensive Training Events in Seoul, South Korea. All of these experiences have helped me improve my writing skills, which is my weakest area when it comes to Hangul.

“Recently, I served as a translator for 279 ROK Navy cadets and several senior leaders when they visited Guam. I was paired up with our Wing Historian and gave a tour of the installation with some historical background.  

“It’s been amazing being a part of LEAP because it has helped me to improve my language skills and allowed me to return back to my birthplace to gain cultural/regional expertise. As a LEAP Scholar, I know I play a big role in meeting not only the Secretary of Defense’s priority of strengthening partnerships with our allies but also my Wing’s mission, especially in the INDOPACOM area of responsibility.

“If you have language abilities, consider applying to LEAP. The opportunities for personal and professional development are plentiful. You won’t regret it.”

-Korean LEAP Scholar Capt. Kenny Maeng

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