AAFB Airmen embrace Hispanic Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kari Degraffenreed
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 97th Air Mobility Wing commemorated this year’s Hispanic Heritage month through celebrations, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, 2022. From trying new foods to learning new dances from every corner of the Latino nations, Hispanic/Latino Culture Club members showcase the way diversity makes the Air Force and surrounding community stronger, more united and even more creative.

Capt. Isabella Zamarron, 97th Logistic Readiness Squadron director of operations, and president of the Hispanic/Latino Culture Club, explains why the month-long celebration is important to her. “I feel brave sharing my culture and more comfortable raising topics that are normally kind of polarizing in this country,” Zamarron said.

Senior Airman Michelle Esparza, 97th LRS traffic management technician and vice president of the Hispanic/Latino Culture Club, explains there are ties between the Air Force and Hispanic culture that cannot be severed. “There are a lot of Hispanics and Latinos in the service,” Esparza said. “It’s important to remember that even though our culture may be different from others, we still bring a lot to the table.”

Zamarron says that one of the things she loves most about being in the Air Force is the acceptance she feels. “Service members, first and foremost, are a part of this microcosm,” Zamarron said. “It's really easy for us to accept one another without prejudice or pushback.”

On Sept. 30, Zamarron helped other club members teach their peers to dance bachata, merengue, and salsa. She finds these kinds of events to be an opportunity to bring people together and learn about Hispanic culture.

“People come for the dance and they also learn the history behind the dance,” Zammaron said. “Salsa is from Cuba. Bachata and merengue – they're from the Dominican Republic. I didn't know that until recently, so I assume that most people wouldn't have known either. This month is what gives you that little peek behind the curtain, more than any other time.”

In addition to the activities held on base, the city of Altus is joining forces with Altus AFB’s Hispanic/Latino Culture Club to host the final event, a fiesta, which is anticipated to bring the whole community together to celebrate.      

“To my knowledge, we've always kind of kept it in-house on base because, again, it's so easy for us to have these exchanges,” Zamarron said. “This is the first time the community of Altus is going to do a heritage celebration jointly and we're just excited to take it off base and see how the community grows.”

The fiesta will be held in the Rodeo Expo Center in Altus on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. and will host performances from folklorico dancers, provide delicious food and lively music.

Everyone from the base and the surrounding community are invited to the fiesta. “Come out to have a great time, party and of course, to dance.” Zamarron said.