By Staff Sgt. Alexa Culbert, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published October 09, 2020
National Hispanic Heritage Month. ( Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Ariana Howard )
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. – In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, an Air University Air War College student shared his experiences as a first generation immigrant.
Lt. Col. Daniel Eduardo Mendoza said his parents left Bolivia sometime in the 1970’s, during a time of instability for the country, in search of something better.
“Growing up with immigrant parents and then seeing the rest of my family, and the limited opportunities that they had, made me really thankful for having been born in the United States,” Mendoza said. “After seeing that and learning from those experiences, I knew that I needed to serve.”
Mendoza achieved his dream of serving his country when he commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at Florida International University, Miami, Florida.
Mendoza said he has been able to use his past experiences and background to bring a different perspective on warfighting capabilities and how to approach problems.
“We [The DoD] talked about wanting to make sure that we have the best capable Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Soldiers for the joint warfighting capability, and we need those different experiences and different perspective to be able to bring out the best that we can in our Air Force,” he said.
Mendoza said he thought the Armed Forces has always been at the forefront when it came to diversity and celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month sends a strong message to people that they are valued.
“If you have someone in your unit from a Hispanic background, reach out to that person and ask them about their culture, their language, how they grew up. It’s be having those daily conversations and just being good human beings,” he said. “Always be proud of who you are. Always do your best. We value you and we need you in our Air Force.”