Dover AFB Airman draws strength from his Cuban heritage

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephani Barge
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Every year from Sept. 15th to Oct. 15th,  the U.S. observes National Hispanic Heritage Month, which honors the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans, past and present.


Dover Air Force Base has its own committee for HHM consisting of Hispanic American Airmen who are enthusiastic to share their cultural traditions and upbringings.


One such person is Airman 1st Class Julio Cesar Cabrera Romero, 436th Aerial Port Squadron passenger service agent trainee. Born and raised in Plaza de la Revolución, Havana, Cuba, Cabrera and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 2015, when he was 15 years old.


While he and his family have experienced hard times in Cuba, Cabrera stated he has many fond memories of his childhood there.


“My parents have always been hard working and provided for my brothers and I the best they could,” said Cabrera. “When I was a kid, there was not much technology in Cuba. Because of that, I spent a lot of time outside playing and “mataperreando,” which is wandering the streets with my friends non-stop until evening.”


Cabrera also expressed his love of spending time with his extended family while growing up and the delicious food that came with it.


“On weekends I would visit my grandparents,” said Cabrera. “My abuelita [grandmother] ‘Cuca’ from my mom’s side, [would make] the best ‘arroz con frijoles negros,’ which is white rice and black beans. With that plate, I [felt I could] live 100 years.”


Despite the nostalgia, Cabrera expressed his gratitude to be in the U.S. and plans to utilize the opportunities now available to him.


“I have many goals,” said Cabrera. “One is to have a degree [within five years]. Long-term, I’d like to commission and help the Air Force from a different aspect and give the best of my knowledge.”


Cabrera takes immense pride in being an Airman, a decision he said surprised even himself.


“Honestly, I had never thought about it, [but] my wife did a lot of research and really encouraged me,” said Cabrera. “I have to say it’s the best decision I have ever made, to join this wonderful organization, because I feel like it takes civilians and turns them into respectful and excellent Airmen.”


Cabrera is currently training to become a passenger service agent at the 436th APS passenger terminal. The job involves a high level of customer service through providing directions, ticketing, aircraft boarding and deplaning assistance at the passenger service counter, baggage and gate areas.


“My career field is interesting,” said Cabrera. “I like all the cool things we get to see and all the types of special equipment. We also go through hard times when we have to receive our fallen heroes and download them from the aircraft.”


Cabrera said his unpredictable upbringing and Cuban heritage prepared him for life in the military.


“My Hispanic heritage helped me to be a great Airman by mentally preparing me for anything,” said Carbrera. “I’ve experienced some really bad times. I remember [times] when we had nothing to mom had to buy food with no flavor and it wasn’t enough for the entire family. Being Hispanic prepared me to survive.”


Overall, Cabrera said his experience in the Air Force as a Hispanic American has been a positive one and he is enthusiastic to share his life experiences and culture with others.


“It’s very important for Dover and all bases around the world to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Cabrera. “It is a time where we as Hispanics get a chance to share our cultures, traditions, foods and experiences. By sharing our culture, we show the American people, and the military, our point of view and I think that special moment connects us as human beings.”