KSLA Salutes: Airman from Columbia reflects on Hispanic Heritage Month & his service
BAFB, La. (KSLA) - Born in Columbia, First Sergeant Julio Castillo grew up in the capital city of Bogotá until he was nine years old. He and his family moved to the United States in 1991. He lived in Virginia, Florida and Louisiana before he joined the military at 18 years old.
“My brother got me interested in the Air Force,” Castillo said. “He joined three years before I did. He’s about four years older than me. My brother set the footsteps for me to follow.”
His brother currently serves as a Chief Master Sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He says is brother convinced him to join JROTC in high school.
“That enabled me to enter the Air Force with some rank,” Castillo said. “I came in as an A1C [airman first class]. I went through basic training. My first base was Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. I then became an MTL, military training leader, at Goodfellow Air Force Base. From there I moved to Hollowman Air Force Base, then to Korea for two years, and now I am here. They all have a special place in my heart. As someone from Columbia, I never even knew where Montana was and getting the opportunity to go there it was such a beautiful part of the country. Being an MTL in Goodfellow guiding and molding first term airmen when they go through tech school was such a neat mission. Korea, the culture there and the cuisine, it was such a nice country. Getting involved with the community there it was really nice, as as well as here.”
He says his biggest takeaways from his service are providing for his family and serving a country that has given him a home.
“The least I could do is give back to this awesome country,” Castillo said. “Being able to serve, I’ve had the opportunity to meet hundreds of wonderful people. Who knows what my life would be like if I hadn’t moved to the U.S. or joined the military? It’s always a special day that I get to serve in this country and serve alongside these awesome men and women.”
During Hispanic Heritage Month, a time where we recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States, Castillo says the Hispanic community reflects where they came from.
“We hope it also gives people who are not Hispanic just a little taste of what we live everyday. Great people come from all walks of life, from all corners of the world. Being Hispanic, it’s a reflection of how great our heritage is, where we come from, and the great food, music and sports we all love. That’s what makes us who we are. I want people to know we are such a close family culture. It doesn’t matter what Hispanic background you have, we all love our family and we take care of our family,” Castillo said.
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