SAN ANTONIO – A group of Air Force training instructors at JBSA-Lackland are celebrating their Hispanic Heritage this month in a subtle, yet powerful way.
Master Sgt. Adriana Romero was born in Bogota, Colombia. She immigrated to the U.S. with her parents when she was just 11 years old.
“As a child I was always infatuated with the uniform and everything that had to do with the military,” Romero said.
It was her father who encouraged her to enlist and serve her new country.
“Hey, you know, you’re in the United States of America. You have an opportunity. You should join. And in retrospect, I started thinking about it and I thought, why not pay it forward to the country that adopted me,” Romero said.
For Staff Sgt. Karina Flores, joining the ranks of the United States Air Force was a far-fetched dream. Her Mexican mother had a very different view on her daughter’s future.
“It was very hard for my mom at first, because she did just want me to stay home and of course, take care of the husband and, you know, just be that traditional Hispanic woman. But I knew I was destined for something more,” Flores said.
And indeed, destiny would have so much more in store for Flores, who says, against all odds nearly seven and a half years later she is where she is supposed to be, serving her country.
“And so, they are super proud of me and definitely having them come out to my graduations, they get a feel for why I love doing what I do, and they see that I’m impacting young airmens’ lives and making that difference for them,” Flores said.
Kimberly Quick says she grew up in a very diverse neighborhood and never expected her ethnicity to be a factor in the military.
“It was very mixed. It was never, you know, just one predominant anything, but when I came to the Air Force, that’s when I started to realize there are certain people that are treated better. There are certain people that must fight for what they want,” Quick said.
And that’s exactly what she did, she worked hard, just like her parents taught her growing up and understood her representation mattered.
“So, I feel like that’s where my attitude came from, just wanting to make sure that as a Latina, I am representing and I am setting that standard of, hey, we’re in a new world and we’re here and ‘Hello, you’re going to get used to us’ and ‘we’re going to be as successful as everybody, regardless of your race, color or background’ anything like that,” Quick said.
And in one of the oldest military respects to our country’s flag, this All-American, All-Latino flag security detail retiring the colors is looking towards a future that continues to celebrate not only our differences, but also what unites us.
“Diversity is a beautiful thing. If we all look the same and if we all came from the same background, it would be a really boring world,” Romero said.