Puerto Rican proud to be an Airman

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janelle Patiño
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Meeting new people from different places is refreshing to many people. It teaches people other cultures, introduces them to new food and exposes them to interesting stories they'd never imagined possible.

Senior Airman Alberto Garcia-Vidal, born and raised in Puerto Rico, is one of many Airmen who came from a different place. Garcia is currently stationed here and works in the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron as a firefighter.

The Puerto Rico native has been involved with the military since his grandfather and father decided to serve. His grandfather was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army while his father was in the Navy.

"I've always wanted to be in the military because of the stories I'd heard from my grandpa and dad," Garcia said. "They both inspired me to be who I am today."

Like every other Airman, Garcia has had several reasons to join the military; however, one historic day made his decision to join the Air Force.

"After seeing all the first responders running towards the tower to save as many people as they could during 9/11, I told my dad I wanted to be one of them," he said. "It was that very moment when I realized I wanted to help and save people from danger."

Because of his dream to be a first responder, he felt the U.S. Air Force would be the perfect place to start. He also chose to leave Puerto Rico because of a promise he made to his wife and their child.

"One night, I was talking to my son in my wife's belly and promised to give him the best possible life," said Garcia. "At the same time, I thought what better way to make my dad and grandfather proud than to follow in their footsteps."

Garcia faced several challenges in joining the military and leaving Puerto Rico, which he thinks influenced him to become a better person.

"While in Puerto Rico, I had to practice and become proficient in the English language before flying to Texas for Basic Training," he said. "Another transition I had to make was changing from a college student without responsibilities to an Airman with a family to support."

According to Garcia, he feels blessed to have the opportunity to be part of the Fire Emergency Services here at Fairchild.

"Being part of the Fire Department, in my opinion, is one of the most important jobs in the Air Force and anywhere else," said Garcia. "It makes me proud knowing that people at Fairchild can sleep safe at night because we're here to give them high quality patient care and an excellent fire prevention."

Joe Mirasole, 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector, said Garcia always has great stories, but his co-worker is all business when it comes to being a Civil Engineer Airman.

"Garcia shares quite a bit of his culture with other firemen, like telling us stories from his childhood as well as sharing with several people how their government and social structure works," he said. "When it comes to work though, he's the first to step up to any task and the last one to quit for the day. He's an outstanding leader on and off duty."

Although he comes from a different place, Garcia managed to excel in everything he did.

His personal motto is, "It doesn't matter where you come from, what matters is how you handle yourself.

"I would like to thank my mentors Tech. Sgt. Christopher Engelke and Mr. Joseph Mirasole for guiding me down the right path in becoming a great Airman and for giving me all the tools to be a better fireman," he added. "It doesn't matter what obstacle comes your way; nothing can stop you from accomplishing your goals. You just have to live one day at a time and never give up on your dreams."