459th MXS NCO Reflects on Hispanic Heritage

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Cierra Presentado
  • 459 ARW/PA

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. — Hispanic Heritage Month is observed and celebrated between September 15 and October 15. Tech Sgt. Sandra Henriquez shares her heritage and her love for representing her Hispanic heritage in the Air Force.

Tech Sgt. Sandra Henriquez is an aero repair technician with the 459th Maintenance Squadron. She was born in California shortly after her parents left El Salvador to give her and her siblings a better life.

“As a young girl, I was aware of the sacrifices my parents made for me to be afforded opportunities,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want to disappoint them. I wanted to do something great, so I decided to pursue the route to the Air Force.”

Around the time she joined, Henriquez said she did not come across many other Hispanics. However, when she did, she was instantly connected and was able to bond with those from her country and other Hispanic countries.

“It was always nice to find people that shared my language; it reminded me of home, and we all bonded over our heritage,” she said. “Now, with my current shop, we have a bunch of Hispanics- a huge difference from when I first joined. I love it.”

Henriquez, being of El Salvadorian descent and a California native, said it feels unique to be able to share dual patriotism.

“I identify America as my home, but it is special and unique to have dual patriotism,” she said. “I embrace the uniqueness. At the end of the day, I am more than just a member. I am representing both of my countries and serving.”

Henriquez takes much pride in her job. Upon joining, she specifically requested a job that is hands-on and challenging. Her selection as an aero repair technician did not disappoint.

“The traveling has been my favorite part of my job,” she said. “Being afforded the opportunity to perform a job that isn’t readily available to the civilian sector has been a blessing. I am so grateful to my parents. If it was not for them taking the risk and moving to another country to give us a better life, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I will continue to reach for new opportunities in my career. I don’t want to be complacent because my parents never were.”

Henriquez hopes her fellow Hispanic Airmen feel as much pride as she does when they put on their uniform.

“I am excited to be able to give back to the country that gave me opportunities,” she said. “Being able to represent my heritage while serving my country is rewarding. Don’t think of it as losing yourself. Embrace it. Embrace the uniqueness.”