KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
This month, Team Kirtland is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Celebrated every May, AAPI month honors the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make in our country.
The Air Force is a melting pot of diversity. Everyone comes from different places and cultures and have their own stories to tell. Airman First Class Kinikalyn Manglona, 377th Security Forces Group, a proud member of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, tells us a little of her story and why she is proud to serve in the United States Air Force.
At the young age of five-years-old, Manglona and her family left her home in Guam and started a new life in California. Being so young when leaving Guam, Manglona does not remember too much about her living there, but she does recall feeling excited about the new adventure she and her family were embarking on.
Manglona comes from a big military family. Growing up, she loved hearing stories of her grandfather's time in the Air Force. While many of Manglona’s siblings joined the Army, she decided to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and enlist in the Air Force in 2022.
“I have always, since a young age, had the mindset of serving the country and after hearing my grandfather praise it so much, the Air Force just spoke to me,” Manglona said.
Today, Manglona is an essential team member at Kirtland. As a member of the 377th Security Forces Group, she works tirelessly to keep the community safe.
Manglona loves her job and reflects on how grateful she is for the opportunities the Air Force has bestowed on her so far.
“The Air Force has definitely got me so out of my comfort zone, but it is a good thing.”
While being pushed out of your comfort zone can be a good thing, it is also important to be reminded of home and one’s culture.
“When I got to Kirtland I wanted to be a part of the Asian American Pacific Islander Committee for many reasons. I knew it would remind me of home, but I also wanted to help educate people,” Manglona said.
Manglona is proud of what she has accomplished with the AAPI committee so far but also knows the opportunities are endless.
“I hope we can get more people to embrace our culture. I want to show people who we are and bring our food, dances, and culture to light. I know people like to learn and learn about new cultures, and I am willing to teach about mine.”
Teaching others about her culture has proven to be a benefit not only to Manglona and other Asian American - Pacific Islanders but to the community at large. Manglona is grateful that she has not seen or experienced any discrimination in the Air Force.
“I really think it's the leadership. They have created a safe place to come talk to them and report anything. From what I have seen, leadership has really helped with that safe kind of space and not tolerated any discrimination.”
When asked what she would say if she had the opportunity to give her 5-year-old self any advice, Manglona stated, “Don't hide who you are, Be yourself and keep learning about your culture. You will be proud of what you will become.”