Proud to be an American

MADISON, WI, UNITED STATES 03.06.2021 Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mary Greenwood 115th Fighter Wing Subscribe11 U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mario Arturo Galvan Andrade, 115th Fighter Wing Force Support Squadron services specialist, stirs a new batch of gravy in preparation for the monthly regular scheduled drill, March 6, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mary Greenwood)



Story by Tech. Sgt. Mary Greenwood 

115th Fighter Wing 

MADISON, Wis. – A 115th Fighter Wing services specialist walked through the streets on what seemed to be a sunnier than usual day with his head held high and a glowing smile on his face for he had just completed his citizenship oath and ceremony.
Airman 1st Class Mario Galvan Andrade began his journey to American citizenship after a visit to the states in 2012 when he was only 18-years-old.
“I love that you can actually see all four seasons here; spring, summer, fall… fall is my favorite season because of all the colors,” said Galvan Andrade. “I’m not really a fan of winter. The snow is kind of scary and I’m still not used to the cold.”
Soon after his arrival Galvan Andrade began experiencing his first bouts of home sickness which in the end caused him to return home to Mexico. After returning, he continued to think about what he had experienced and knew he would eventually try to make his way back.
While in Mexico he stayed with extended family for a few years.
“I stayed with my grandmother while my mom would send money to help pay for food,” said Galvan Andrade. “There were never times that we wouldn’t hear from her for long. She was calling us every weekend and keeping an eye on us while we were growing up.”
In 2016, at the age of 22, he moved back to the states with his mom, sister and nephew.
“I had a single mom with three kids and living in Mexico was hard,” said Galvan Andrade. “So she brought us here to give us a better life.”
Galvan Andrade experienced some language barriers when he first began working in the states. Before he left Mexico, he learned as much English as he thought was necessary, but soon found out he had just been learning the basics.
“When I came back in July of 2016 I was so lost, this was a whole new world,” said Galvan Andrade. “People were talking too fast and most times I didn’t even understand what they were saying.”
At his first job the people he worked with would make gestures while explaining what they wanted him to do.
“This is how I learned,” said Galvan Andrade. “By paying attention to what the people were saying while also showing me what they meant.”
Galvan Andrade knew he wanted to do something different with his life after learning a new job, a new language and a new culture, but just could not put his finger on what that was.
One day at work his supervisor had mentioned he should look into the National Guard. From that conversation blossomed a whole new set of plans for Galvan, and so he set off on this new path. It was around this time that he had also begun experiencing home sickness once again but this time insisted he would stay and make a change.
“Even though I got homesick, I knew I had come here for a reason,” said Galvan Andrade. “I wanted to make a change that would make my life better.”
Galvan Andrade made the decision in December 2018 to enlist in the Air National Guard. He knew it would be a long and difficult process without his citizenship but not impossible. In November of 2019 he began living on his own and furthering his career and began to really push toward earning his citizenship.
Galvan Andrade started working at the Century Foods International LLC in Sparta, Wisconsin as a quality control technician, then applied to be an operations trainer. Now he works as a production supervisor in Waterloo, Wisconsin at Van Holten’s Pickels where he still applies his translation skills due to the fact that 90% of the workers speak Spanish.
“I never left my career field in the food industry,” said Galvan Andrade. “I am still helping out people and training them, now with more responsibility and committed to be a good leader.”
While in Mexico Galvan Andrade earned his Bachelor’s degree in food science at Universidad Veracruzana, Facultad de Ciencias Quimicas (University of Veracruz, Faculty of Chemical Sciences), so it comes as no surprise that he wants to chase the same dreams while here in the states. Along with his passion for the culinary, Galvan Andrade also developed a passion for the military.
Galvan Andrade works as a traditional guardsman with the 115th FW one weekend a month and says he loves every minute of it.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about my future with the military,” said Galvan Andrade. “I would love to go back to basic training if I could. The environment, the teamwork, and the way they make you a person with more discipline was exactly what I needed when I first got here. I needed a change for the better, and it gave me just that.”
Galvan Andrade strode into his citizenship test on November 9, 2020 with high hopes and a great deal of confidence. He crushed it answering every question correctly and took his oath a few months later in Minneapolis Minnesota. As an American citizen he has the opportunity to deploy which was always something he knew he wanted to do. He wants the full military experience and to serve his new country as much as he is able.
Not only had gaining his citizenship given him more opportunities in the military but it has also opened some doors that had been closed to him in his civilian goals.
“I would like to get a federal job where I can apply what I learned in college,” said Galvan Andrade. “I want a in the Food and Drug Administration and to be able to do that I had to be a citizen.”
As Galvan Andrade advances in his military and civilian life he is inspiring others in his wake.
“My nephew told me he wants to be like me when he grows up, it almost made me cry,” said Galvan Andrade. “Now my sister is in basic training and will join the Air National Guard with Volk Field. She told me I did what she had always wanted to do and is now actually doing it herself.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.