AFCLC, Air Force Culture and Language Center, Air Force's Global Classroom

LEAP Spotlight – Tech. Sgt. Alexander Kozyerinsky

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  • By LEAP Spotlight: Tech. Sgt. Alexander Kozyerinsky

Growing up in Ukraine, I always wanted to join the U.S. military. Influenced by many Western action films, I dreamed of becoming a Marine one day who would inevitably save the world. In 2002, my family was allowed to immigrate to the United States, bringing me closer to realizing my dream.

My hopes and aspirations to join the Marine Corps were crushed when I learned my weight did not align with the accessions policy. Some years later, I revisited the idea of joining the military, preparing myself more thoroughly this time. While part of the reason for entering the military came from the childhood dream, the other component was continuing my family heritage of honorable service and repaying the debt to the United States for becoming my new home. I entered the Air Force and was shipped out to basic military training on March 1, 2011.

I took language proficiency tests regularly after learning that the Air Force needed language-enabled Airmen and offered language proficiency bonuses. I aspired to use my language skills to support national security objectives, yet as an aircraft maintainer, I needed more opportunities. While deployed to the Middle East in 2014, I watched Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine on live television. This made me eager to offer my skills and abilities even more than before. Still, I did not see any opportunities to do so.

Then, 2020 brought COVID-19 and an assignment to Kadena Air Base, where I learned about the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Language Enabled Airman Program and decided to apply. I was selected as a Ukrainian Language Scholar in 2021. A year later, Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine, and I was finally able to utilize my language skills in support of U.S. national interests.

Upon completing eMentor, I was offered a unique opportunity to provide translation support to the U.S. Consulate General in Japan for displaced Ukrainian students who took refuge in Okinawa. Six months later, I supported the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force by translating the Air Force’s foundational documents and providing Ukrainian partners with materials used to restructure their Air Forces to align with the Western military model. I volunteered as an interpreter for a NATO conference on Agile Combat Employment lessons learned to further my language proficiency. This unique opportunity gave me a new perspective and understanding of the NATO military organization and the Ukrainian Air Force’s approach to maximizing scarce air domain asset survivability during wartime.

Most recently, I supported a Secretary of Defense priority project by translating ground weapon systems manuals into Ukrainian. Finally, my knowledge of foreign languages and my understanding of language, regional expertise, and culture allowed me to stand-up a language program within my unit, increasing functional capabilities.

I absolutely enjoy being a part of the LEAP community, as it gives me a sense of accomplishment to support our strategic partners and further our national interests.

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