Face of Defense: Airman Receives Hometown Promotion

SAN SALVADOR, El Sal­vador — A U.S. Air Force non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer born in El Sal­vador was pro­mot­ed to mas­ter sergeant before fam­i­ly and mil­i­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Unit­ed States and El Sal­vador in his home­town dur­ing a pro­mo­tion cer­e­mo­ny Oct. 29.

Special Operations Brigade
Air Force Mas­ter Sgt. Fred Cam­pos, a Sal­vado­ran-Amer­i­can serv­ing in the U.S. Air Force with Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand South, lis­tens as Col. Wal­ter Areva­lo, com­man­der of El Salvador’s Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Brigade, con­grat­u­lates him on his pro­mo­tion, Oct. 29, 2010.
DOD pho­to
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Mas­ter Sgt. Fred Cam­pos, a logis­tics plan­ner for Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand South, moved to the Unit­ed States when he was 8 years old and lived with his uncle in Seat­tle.

Cam­pos, who lost his father dur­ing El Salvador’s civ­il war, was grant­ed polit­i­cal asy­lum by the Unit­ed States due to the con­flict in 1983. El Salvador’s civ­il war began in 1980 and end­ed in 1992. An esti­mat­ed 75,000 peo­ple died dur­ing the con­flict.

Although his sit­u­a­tion improved when he arrived in the Unit­ed States, Cam­pos said, he faced many obsta­cles in his new coun­try. His lim­it­ed Eng­lish was one of the biggest hur­dles he had to over­come when he found him­self to be the only Span­ish-speak­ing stu­dent in his school. Unde­terred by his lan­guage lim­i­ta­tion and with the help of his teach­ers and hard work, he began to learn Eng­lish by read­ing children’s books.

“It took time, but even­tu­al­ly I was able to learn the basics in six months,” he said. His fam­i­ly lat­er moved to Tuc­son, Ariz., where he grad­u­at­ed from Canyon Del Oro High School in 1994.

After attend­ing a cou­ple of months of com­mu­ni­ty col­lege fol­low­ing his high school grad­u­a­tion, Cam­pos said, he decid­ed to join the Air Force.

“When I first came in, I was very lim­it­ed with the jobs I could do in the Air Force because I did not have a secu­ri­ty clear­ance since I wasn’t a U.S. cit­i­zen,” Cam­pos said. “I was get­ting frus­trat­ed because I want­ed to do more in the Air Force, but my fam­i­ly encour­aged me to stay and con­tin­ue my ser­vice.”

Cam­pos decid­ed to stay in the Air Force, and he earned his cit­i­zen­ship through the mil­i­tary in 1998. Now, after 16 years of mil­i­tary ser­vice, Cam­pos has been pro­mot­ed in a famil­iar but unex­pect­ed set­ting.

“I often trav­el abroad to coor­di­nate logis­tics that sup­port mil­i­tary exer­cis­es,” he said. “I nev­er thought that I would ever be pro­mot­ed here, in the place where I was born, in front of my clos­est rel­a­tives.”

Cam­pos was one of sev­er­al ser­vice­mem­bers in El Sal­vador par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Fuerzas Coman­do 2011 ini­tial plan­ning con­fer­ence. Fuerzas Coman­do is a mil­i­tary exer­cise that includes a spe­cial oper­a­tions skills com­pe­ti­tion and a senior leader sem­i­nar designed to fos­ter region­al rela­tions and improve inter­a­gency coop­er­a­tion. Secu­ri­ty forces from more than 20 coun­tries will take part in the exer­cise in June.

Col. Wal­ter Areva­lo, the com­man­der of the Sal­vado­ran Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Brigade, said El Sal­vador is proud of Cam­pos’ accom­plish­ment and that he felt hon­ored that his sol­diers were able to share this spe­cial moment.

“We have served with many U.S. mil­i­tary mem­bers in Iraq who came from Sal­vado­ran descent. We have always been proud of them,” Areva­lo said. “We are hon­ored to see an Amer­i­can ser­vice­mem­ber with Sal­vado­ran roots be pro­mot­ed here in our coun­try. We con­grat­u­late him on his suc­cess.”

Giv­en their his­to­ry and the dif­fi­cult expe­ri­ences that result­ed from the past, the pro­mo­tion cer­e­mo­ny was an emo­tion­al event for Cam­pos and for his fam­i­ly mem­bers who were in atten­dance.

“I hope that El Sal­vador nev­er expe­ri­ences what it expe­ri­enced before dur­ing the war,” the new­ly pro­mot­ed mas­ter sergeant said. I hope that my mil­i­tary ser­vice and my work here ben­e­fits El Sal­vador in the future.”

From a Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand South News Release
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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