The Ezquivel’s: First generation Americans pave path through service

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jayden Ford
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Public Affairs

Two Airmen walk in long strides through a sea of emotion and people. The sounds of excitement fill the air as clusters of people begin to form, making it harder for the pair to break through. In an instant the two see what they were searching for. A man stands with his hands behind his back, seemingly waiting for the moment, because today is his graduation from Air Force Basic Military Training — laying the beginning of the final sibling's call to service.

Tech. Sgt. Janette Ezquivel, Senior Airman Abelardo Ezquivel and Staff Sgt. Beatriz Ezquivel, who left the Air Force after serving for six years to attend college, grew up in Hampton Bays, New York after their parents immigrated to the United States in the hopes that they could provide a better future for their family.

“It's interesting because my dad came for work and to establish a life here,” said Janette Ezquivel, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations departures specialist. “My mom was already here dealing with personal matters, and they just happened to meet then fall in love.”

This led them to a decision that would impact them and their family for generations.

“They had the opportunity to go back to my mom or my dad's country, but they wanted to stay here because they knew there were more opportunities here in America,” Janette said.

The siblings were very close, she said. With their father working multiple jobs to help the family realize their American dream, they spent many days helping their mother.

“We did everything together because my dad was working three jobs at a time to make ends meet,” Janette said. “My mom was a stay-at-home mom, but once we got older, she started this cleaning business and would take us with her, so we spent a lot of time doing that as siblings.”

As the siblings grew into adults, the oldest, Beatriz Ezquivel, made the decision to join the Air Force as an aerospace physiologist — leaving her immigrant parents to worry as they knew little about the military.

“They were so scared because she was the first one to join and they were unsure of what that would mean for her future,” Janette said. “They saw how well my sister was doing after boot camp and that she was able to establish herself as an independent adult fairly easily given the resources that were afforded to her.”

This eventually helped Janette realize that she too had a purpose to serve, and she joined a few years after her sister.

“I wanted to give back to the country that was able to provide us a home, stability, safety and basically everything that we ever needed,” Janette said. “The least I could do was sacrifice a little to give back and I knew I wanted to be part of that — the world's greatest Air Force.”

After seeing his two sisters join, the youngest sibling, Abelardo Ezquivel, followed in their footsteps when he joined as a bioenvironmental engineer.

“It was surreal seeing my sisters take that step and commit to the ultimate sacrifice of serving our country,” said Abelardo, who is currently serving as an escort controller with the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. “They paved the way for me and ultimately, without them, I would have never found the courage and support to be where I am today.”

Abelardo said that this support was more than life changing. It might have been just the reason for saving it.

“I can honestly say before joining, I had nothing going for me and I felt stuck in the small hometown we can easily get comfortable in,” Abelardo said. “I had always felt that I had a head start with them in my corner. Not only did they invest in my career from the beginning, but most importantly, their support saved my life.”

Now, as the siblings reflect on what brought them to this point, Janette said it was undoubtedly their parent’s determination for a better life that set the tone for them to excel in life and the Air Force.

“It's all thanks to my parents, because they would always tell us that we can do whatever we want in life as long as we work hard and take advantage of every opportunity, you can make it happen,” said Janette. “It just goes to show my parents did an amazing job raising us. We grew up as Latinos in this country and we're always grateful for even being here, so we strive to continue to work hard and give back as much as we can to a place that gave us everything.”