One Full American Life of a First Generation Immigrant of Mexican Descentby Roberto Pérez
Donald Trump’s blatant prejudice against people of color instilled in Roberto a desire to tell his family’s story. Because his parents and family spoke only Spanish at home, Roberto became an English language learner, as did his eleven siblings.
Growing up in the city, Roberto did not wait to be drafted as most eighteen-year-olds were, whether or not they were still in high school. He dropped out of high school to volunteer for the US Air Force soon after the Korean War started. He spent twenty years serving in supervisory and superintendency positions wherever he was assigned. Eight Pérez men from this family wore the American uniform during times of war. Roberto adds, “We were more than volunteers for the armed forces. We were teachers, school principals, college professors, counselors, nutritionists, lawyers, and craftsmen who have businesses and employ dozens of Americans.”
Still, three brothers fought during WWII. Roberto and one other brother served during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Four of Roberto’s nephews saw action in Vietnam and in the Gulf War. None entered military service because they were gung ho and patriotic. They did it because they were contributors to the country they love and wanted to carry their weight.
Roberto accomplished the following feats as an American of Mexican descent:
At age nineteen, in May of 1952, in a group class of 580 airmen studying to be logisticians in Cheyenne, Wyoming, during the Korean War, he finished with the top overall grade average and earned a promotion to corporal with less than five months of service.
Assumed a position of leadership for the remainder of his twenty years in the military, earning supervisory and superintendency positions at military bases in four different continents where American armed forces were stationed.
In 1956, because he had duties as a logistician handling supplies and equipment for special weapons, he was cleared and awarded a Top Secret Security Clearance under the direction of the Eisenhower administration. He kept the clearance for the remaining fifteen years of service in the US Air Force.
In 1963, he earned the Commendation Medal for service in Korea where he trained Korean nationals and American airmen to convert the logistical supply account from a manual accounting system to a punch-card approach that facilitated better service to operational units all over Korea.
In 1964, he began taking college courses on an after-work basis until he earned his BA degree from Florida State University in 1971. In 1974, Roberto earned his master’s degree and in 1978 his doctorate in Educational Administration, both degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. All three degrees were earned while working full-time.
In 1998, reaching the age of sixty-five, Roberto retired and made his final move, this time back to Maryland. He spent the next seventeen years teaching as an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, DC, and at McDaniel College in Maryland. During the latter years of this period, Roberto also volunteered with the Frederick public schools, also in Maryland, to assist other English language learners and to facilitate at parent-teacher conferences.
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|Book Title||One Full American Life of a First Generation Immigrant of Mexican Descent|
|Date Published||April 27, 2020|