LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Since the signing of the bill by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, America observed National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, to celebrate the contributions and culture of citizens of Latin American descent.
While it may seem counterintuitive to spread a heritage month across multiple months, the mid-September start date was chosen to commemorate several pivotal moments in Latin American history. Five Latin American countries, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, celebrate their Independence Day on the 15th. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on the 16th, and Chile on 18th.
This year, Team XL would like to send a special thanks to the Del Rio community and to the many members that help keep our planes flying and continue to assist in building America's greatest, most lethal pilots the world has to offer.
Many members of our maintenance teams were born and raised here and have grown with the base over the years. Many see it as more than just a job, it's a career, and more importantly, part of the community and family.
“I grew up with many of the guys I work with and we went to school together,” said Aaron Meza, 47th Flying Maintenance Directorate aircraft attendant. “My family works on different airframes on base so I'm always around the people I know and love.”
Many from the community have been working on helping the base flourish with programs provided in highschool, allowing them to learn their craft before graduating.
“My junior and senior year we were out here on the flight line basically doing what we do now, watching out for the aircraft and learning how to inspect them,” said Aaron Meza
The magnitude of the job and the important role Laughlin’s maintainers play in the overall Air Force mission is evident every day.
“I have a lot of pride for what I do,” said Jerry Martinez, 47th Flying Maintenance Directorate aircraft mechanic. “ We are working on these aircraft for the Air Force and making an impact on a bigger picture.”
The people who have grown with and have watched Laughlin change make it what it is today. Many military members only spend a few years at the base, but these men and women truly shape what Laughlin is. One former Air Force member who now works on the flightline sums up his experience perfectly.
“There's no better job for a veteran and no other job I'd want to be doing,” said Alex Arriaga, 47th Flying Maintenance Directorate crew chief.