Marine turned Airman: a journey of service, sacrifice

  • Published
  • By Maria Galvez
  • 673d ABW/PA

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and recognize the contributions of Hispanic individuals in shaping American history and culture. Among these individuals is U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jorge L. Galvez, a armament support section chief assigned to the 3rd Wing’s 3rd Munitions Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and a dedicated military service member who has served his country with unwavering loyalty and pride. His story is one of perseverance, sacrifice, and a deep sense of duty towards his family and fellow comrades.

Galvez’s military journey began in 2006 with a strong desire to give back to the country that had provided his family with opportunities and a better life. He remembers the challenges his family faced when they first arrived in the United States in 1983, including the struggles of being undocumented immigrants in a foreign land.

He said his family has been an incredible source of support throughout his military journey.
Despite obstacles, his grandmother, uncles, and mother became citizens, inspiring him to serve in the military as a way to repay his debt to his family and new home.

“I owe them everything,” said Galvez.

For Galvez, joining the military at 18 years old was not solely about personal gain or career prospects. It was driven by a deep sense of responsibility to protect and serve the people he formed bonds with during his service. He believed that building strong relationships with his comrades created a shared commitment to safeguarding one another.

Galvez’s teammates said they think highly of him as a supervisor and fellow wingman.

“An exceptional leader isn’t just defined by rank, but by the ability to inspire, guide, and empower their team,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin Bower, an armament maintenance supervisor also assigned to the 3rd Wing. “In the realm of leadership, heroes emerge not from capes, but from compassion, courage, and an unwavering commitment to their team’s success.”

Galvez’s six deployments have provided him with a unique perspective on different cultures, expanding his worldview, and deepening his appreciation for the diversity of the world.

“Throughout my military career, I’ve had the privilege of traveling to various countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Seychelles, Italy, Germany, Japan, Turkey, and Ireland,” said Galvez.

Galvez’s military career took an unexpected turn when he transitioned from the Marines to the Air Force. After leaving the Marines due to a lack of available positions, he spent two years as a civilian. However, civilian life lacked the camaraderie and purpose he found in the military. Determined to return to service, he explored various options and eventually, almost found his place in the Air Force as a pararescue jumper.

Or so he thought.

While undergoing intense training to become a PJ, Galvez was instead assigned to a different job. He eventually would go on to join the Air Force in 2013 as a weapons technician. Finally, after two years of civilian life, Galvez's Air Force career began at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, where he spent a significant portion of his career working on the A-10C Thunderbolt II.

His journey has not been without its challenges. While serving in Afghanistan with the 75th Aircraft Maintenance Unit as a senior airman, he experienced a severe injury that shattered his elbow.

Despite the pain and uncertainty, his dedication to his comrades and the bond they shared drove him to want to remain in Afghanistan, even with a broken elbow.

He would spend weeks in hospitals in Germany and Maryland. His injury left him recovering in a cast and enduring weeks of physical therapy.

His experience highlights the resilience and commitment of those who serve in the military.

Upon arriving at JBER in 2021 and being assigned to the 3rd MUNS, Galvez's experience preceded him and he was assigned to the F-22 back shop, an area he hadn't yet explored. Galvez quickly adapted, learning the intricacies of F-22 weapons maintenance, and becoming a valuable resource for his fellow Airmen. Proactively preparing for potential deployments, he immersed himself in the technical aspects, ensuring he could lead effectively in any situation.

Galvez's journey as a Hispanic serviceman in the military is a testament to the importance of family, resilience, and cultural pride. His commitment to his comrades and the bonds he formed with them reflect the values instilled in him by his Hispanic heritage. While he never specifically thought about his Hispanic identity in the military, he recognizes the need for more representation and encourages young Hispanic individuals to join the military and make a difference.

His message to the next generation is clear -- “embrace your culture, work hard, and bring your positive energy to everything you do,” he said.

Galvez's story is a reminder of the rich contributions and experiences that Hispanic individuals bring to the military community, and a celebration of the diversity that makes our nation stronger.

“Strength lies not only in numbers, but in the diverse tapestry of those who serve,” said Galvez. “Hispanic representation in the military is an invaluable asset, embodying the rich heritage, resilience, and unwavering dedication that fuels our armed forces.”