By 2nd Lt. Idalí Beltré Acevedo | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The month of June marks the 14th annual celebration of National Caribbean-American Heritage Month and Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado recognizes the contributions made by these men and women to the U.S. military.
In 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, recognizing the significance of Caribbean people and their heritage in the culture and history of the United States of America.
On June 6, 2006, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation officially recognizing June as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.
Since then, a proclamation re-affirming the celebration has been made every year by the White House. This year on May 31, President Donald Trump stated the following on his proclamation:
“During National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, we acknowledge the significant ways Caribbean Americans have shaped our culture and heritage. Americans with roots in the Caribbean have greatly enriched our society, contributing to the arts, business, journalism, technology, government, religion, the military, sports and many other fields.
This month, we recognize the vibrant culture and patriotism of Caribbean-Americans that continue to bolster our country and enrich our lives, and we pay tribute to the strong friendship between the United States and the countries of the Caribbean.”
One of the Caribbean-Americans contributing to team Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, is Gosnel James, who’s been serving the men and women of the base as a cook since 2012. A native of Jamaica, James came to America in 2001.
“I had no education in culinary arts, just experience,” James said. “I have been cooking since I was 14 years old, my mom taught me how to cook.”
James had many other experiences before making his way to the United States. “I was security detail for the French Ambassador in Jamaica before coming into the United States,” James said.
After working in the dining Dish facility for seven years, James admits he knows almost every one he comes in contact with.
James is just one of thousands of members serving in or with the military around the world with Caribbean heritage.
Second Lt. Jean Monneus, an aircraft maintenance officer stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, is another Caribbean-American; one who joined the military after seeing the Air Force in action as a child.
“I was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but I grew up in Haiti, and went to high school and college in Puerto Rico,” he said. “My parents are from Haiti, I was in Haiti until I was 13 years old.”
The 2010 earthquake that devastated the island of Haiti forced Monneus to move.
“When the earthquake happened, I remember the Air Force was doing humanitarian aid (Operation Unified Response), flying American citizens from Haiti back to the United States. I was blessed to be one of the 15,000 Americans the Air Force helped.”
The interaction that Monneus had with the Air Force during the emergency helped solidify his desire to join the Air Force in the future.
“It was really cool to get a ride on a C-17 as a kid,” he continued. “I remember seeing how charismatic and sympathetic the Airmen were and I decided I wanted to join the Air Force one day to help others in need like the Air Force helped me.”
Although Caribbean-American celebrate in June, they continue to serve in a variety of fashions each day, working to better Schriever AFB, the Air Force, Department of Defense and the United States of America.
For more information about National Caribbean-American Heritage month visit: caribbeanamericanmonth.org/.