Hispanic Heritage Month: Tech. Sgt. David Rodriguez

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  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – It’s Hispanic Heritage Month! In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the commemoration into law to recognize the significant contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture and achievements of the United States and the Air Force.

The theme for this year's celebration is, “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.”  The theme encourages the nation to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities and a stronger United States.

Meet Tech. Sgt. David Angel Rodriguez, a ground combat readiness instructor at the Air Force Security Forces Center’s Desert Defender Ground Combat Regional Training Center at Fort Bliss, Texas.  Rodriguez shares his experience serving in the military and what Hispanic Heritage Month means to him.  

Here’s more from Rodriguez:

How do you support AFIMSC and the Air Force? 
I’m responsible for the training of 4,800 Defenders annually on pre-deployment critical skillsets, preparing the next generation of Defenders in direct support of future combat operations. I’m also responsible for more than $4 million in Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center deployment assets. Additionally, I directly support Air Force Materiel Command by training and equipping warfighters while developing operationally capable Defenders. Developing our Defenders is tied directly to the U.S. Air Force’s overarching goals to protect and defend the United States from our adversaries.  

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? 
It represents a time to celebrate my heritage and roots that ground me in this world and country. Remembering the struggles and sacrifices my parents and grandparents had to endure to come to this great country of opportunity. Although I may speak, look and think differently than many of my peers, those are the things that make me unique. This month is also a time to reflect on how my actions on duty and off impact the way others see Hispanics.

I come from a Spanish and Mexican background, and both are rich in history and culture. I celebrate it by allowing my children to see the TV shows, from cartoons to sitcoms, I grew up watching as a child in a Hispanic home. (I also cheat on my diet with delicious dishes my mother brought with her from Mexico). More importantly, I teach my children about their heritage from history and family stories. It is vital, to me, my children are proud of their background.

My mother and father came to this country with almost nothing to give me and my four siblings a better life. They lost so much along the way to provide us with better opportunities in this world. My father worked 18-hour days to provide for us, sacrificing time and comfort away from home. My mother had to navigate through this country with no English skills. My grandfather came on a boat to Mexico seeking a better life, leaving behind his home, and seeking a new life in America.

I was raised in an impoverished town where most of the kids my age only spoke Spanish, including myself. This made me naïve to the fact the rest of the United States was not like my town. Once I joined the military, I realized how different I was and what it was like to be a minority. At first, it was embarrassing to even speak with my accent or to share my background of growing up in a trailer park town. Eventually, I learned to stop being embarrassed and embrace the things that made me who I am today. My accent is a reminder that my mother only spoke Spanish and didn’t stop helping each one of her children achieve a better life than the one she had growing up. Although people complained about how much we worked, I knew my father worked harder and longer hours for less pay.

When I put on my uniform, I always try to look sharp and squared away. I work my tail off every day whether it’s in the office, in the field or during physical training. I try to be as respectful to lower enlisted as I am to those who outrank me. I don’t do it for just me but every Hispanic out there. I strive to be an example to those who are in the military and those who are thinking of joining. To put a good light on what it means to be Hispanic.