BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Although it is known as the United States Air Force, many Airmen come from all over the world. Some moved to America when they were young, others never stepped foot in the country until Basic Military Training, but they all have one thing in common: proud service as American Airmen.
Airman 1st Class Zenia Villaluz, 2nd Bomb Wing Judge Advocate military justice paralegal, lived in the Philippines until the age of 12 before moving with her parents to Osan Air Base, South Korea, where she completed her entire enlistment via email upon graduating high school.
“It was a difficult process, but it was all worth it. I could’ve gone to college without the Air Force, but what really drove me to join was my heart for service,” Villaluz said. “There’s a different feeling when it comes to serving and being a part of something bigger than yourself.”
After living on Osan for more than five years, Villaluz made the decision to take her talents and support the U.S. military.
“Service to not only the nation but the Air Force is something I have always admired and looked up to. I could’ve served in the Philippine air force, but I chose to be an American Airman because we are the best at what we do,” Villaluz said.
Now she supports the mission by facilitating administrative processes needed in the pursuit of upholding the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“Being a case paralegal can be difficult. Every day I deal with negative aspects happening around base; however, I love my job for that same reason," Villaluz said. "I know I am supporting the UCMJ.”
Another proud American Airman is Airman 1st Class Adolfo Salinas Godinez, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron operations management journeyman. Salinas Godinez was born in Mexico but moved with his family to Pennsylvania when he was five-years-old.
“For me, joining was not a hard decision. I wanted to pursue debt-free education,” Salinas Godinez said. “I thought I knew what I was getting into, but the experiences and opportunities that I have had are more than I ever expected.”
Personal and educational goals are what brought Salinas Godinez to the Air Force, but he received more.
“I am proud to serve because it brings me comfort. I have experienced a lot of negative connotations being Mexican,” Salinas Godinez said. “I was stereotyped and judged growing up, but the Air Force has empowered me and showed me that it shouldn’t matter where you are from. What matters is where you take yourself in life.”
Along with his work at the 2nd CES, he serves with the base honor guard.
“Honor guard has been my favorite aspect of my Air Force career thus far. It was different than what I anticipated, but it was so rewarding. I obtained so many new perspectives and friends,” Salinas Godinez said.
Diversity in the Air Force allows men and women from different walks of life, experiences and points of view to come together and fight for one purpose. Airmen like Villaluz and Salinas Godinez may not have been born in the U.S., but they are American Airmen who serve proudly every day to support the mission.
"Embracing, celebrating and striving for diversity isn't just the right thing to do, nor is it just a sensitive and politically correct, knee-jerk response. It is the application of our collective intelligence -- our uniqueness coming together to fulfill our duty to provide the nation with the most effective and lethal fighting force we have the capacity to employ on the battlefield,” said Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria, USAF Academy superintendent, Colorado Springs, Colo., in a commentary. “To put it in the terms of a military leader: Diversity is a force multiplier. We must do this together, all ranks and ages, races and religions, sexual orientations and identities — all of us.”