Dover AFB hosts Hispanic Heritage Month Luncheon

  • Published
  • By Mauricio Campino

Members of Team Dover celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month at a luncheon Oct. 15, 2021, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

Laura M. Gendreau, United Way of Delaware director of financial empowerment, and Senior Master Sgt. Christian Johnson,  Air Force Chief of Staff superintendent, were guest speakers for the luncheon.

Johnson was born in Reynosa, Mexico and immigrated to Brownsville, Texas prior to entering the Air Force in 2001.

“I knew at 15 years old that I wanted to be an Airman. I was not sure what all that meant but I knew I wanted to serve my country and those wearing the uniform.” said Johnson

Johnson spoke about breaking traditional gender roles within her Mexican culture by joining the military and some of the challenges she’s faced throughout her career.

“Traditionally, in our culture, a young lady does not leave her home unless she’s going straight to college or they’re getting married,” said Johnson. “I was told as a young Airman that my accent was too strong, that my English wasn’t good enough. I really believe we all just need a chance.”

Johnson got her chance and was able to achieve her dream of becoming an Air Force military training instructor, eventually finding her way to her current role as superintendent to the Air Force’s top Airman.

The official observation and celebration of Hispanic Heritage Week was signed into law by former President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. It was extended to a month-long celebration in 1989 by former President George H.W. Bush. The date of September 15th was chosen to start the month-long celebration because this is the day several Central and South American countries celebrate their independence from Spain.

Col. Matt Husemann, 436th Airlift Wing commander, gave closing remarks at the event, and discussed how every Airman’s story is different and important.

“Where they came from and what they bring to the fight is going to be different,” said Husemann. “Inclusivity...Empowerment...That’s what celebrating diversity is all about.”