INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
For the first time in several years, the 39th Air Base Wing collaborated with U.S. Mission Turkey to participate in a virtual panel in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month for more than 50 students across Turkey Oct. 6, 2021.
The panel included three Hispanic Americans from the 39th Air Base Wing, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and the U.S. Consulate in Adana who together represented four different regions of the Hispanophone world: North, South and Central America, and the Caribbean.
Senior Airman Jamie Barr, an equipment accountability technician assigned to the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, discussed her family’s Argentinian and Guatemalan heritage and how she continues to practice traditions to remain connected to her roots. She also described her experience as a Hispanic service member.
“To me, being Hispanic in the Air Force means being able to connect to other individuals through our shared heritage, one that dates back to even before the nation was founded,” she said.
Erica Marrero, U.S. Consulate in Adana public affairs officer, Eduardo Castillo, U.S. Embassy in Ankara assistant information officer, shared their respective Puerto Rican and Mexican ancestries. Both panelists also discussed their families’ journeys to the U.S.
“The generations who came before us paved the way for Puerto Ricans to serve in city, state, and federal governments. That is what makes it possible for me to be here with you today,” she said. “Without the brave migration of my grandparents and my Dad, I would never have had the opportunity to become a U.S. diplomat.”
Castillo also underscored the importance of the panel in promoting the richness of American culture to Turkish citizens.
“An American can be from all different backgrounds and [the event] showcases this diversity,” he said.
Members of the 39th Air Base Wing were eager to participate in this event to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month and highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in the Air Force.
“Our wing is proud to help demonstrate the vital role of Hispanic American Airmen in the U.S. Air Force to our Turkish allies and community partners,” said Col. Jason Gingrich, 39th Air Base Wing commander. “Diversity and inclusion are force multipliers for our wing and service. We need diversity of thought and perspective to develop innovative solutions to today’s complex security challenges.”
The event was part of U.S. Mission Turkey’s ongoing outreach and engagement regarding American society and culture.
“Hispanic Heritage is American Heritage and we are proud to share that rich cultural history with Turkish students. Conversations like this are key to promoting cultural appreciation and mutual understanding between American and Turkish citizens, which further strengthens the longstanding friendship between our two countries,” said Consul Amanda Pilz, U.S. Consulate in Adana principal officer.