Achieving the dream

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Being born in the United States grants special privileges, privileges many Americans take for granted each and every day. These privileges give the freedom to go achieve dreams no matter what they are, and give rights that grant protection under the U.S. Constitution.

America has a long history of welcoming people from around the world. In fiscal year 2013, 777,416 people were naturalized, according to statistics from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. More than 5,000 were military members. Senior Airmen Angelo Mykael P. Cabuang, 17th Contracting Squadron, contract specialist, is one of these members.

Born and raised on the northern island of Luzon, Philippines, Cabaung's parent's value education. "I went to a private school because for my parents education is important, so they wanted to send me to the best school they [could]," said Cabaung.

From age 7, Cabaung would go to school 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. When he got home, his mom would ask if he had homework before being allowed to go anywhere, said Cabuang. During the rush of business from 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays, Cabaung worked at the family grocery store.

Life was pretty hard in the Philippines, and when he was 15, his family spoke to him about joining the military. "My uncle was retired Air Force, and he told me about all the benefits I [could] have if I joined the Air Force, and he pretty much sold me," said Cabaung.
 
When his family asked him to help support them, he felt as if he had a huge weight to carry and was stressed. "They were expecting me to pass the test to get in the Air Force, and I didn't know how hard the test would be," said Cabuang.

When the Airman was a baby, his grandmother had petitioned for his mother and her children to come to the U.S. legally, and in 2011, Cabaung and his family moved to America - a process that took almost 20 years.

Within a month of being in the states he had a job, started studying the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, and had applied to join the Air Force. In July 2012, he enlisted in the Air Force and started preparing to take the citizenship test, but he faced yet another challenge.

"Transportation from Goodfellow to San Antonio was my biggest challenge," said Cabaung. "I did not know how to drive, because in the Philippines, you really do not need it, public transportation will take you anywhere."

Cabuang's wingmen drove him the three hours to San Antonio to work on the citizenship process. Despite the limitations his perseverance helped him to achieve his goal, and in 2013, he passed the citizenship test and became a U.S. citizen.
     
Cabaung continued to work hard, and accept new challenges. "He was one of those troops who hit the ground running," said Staff Sgt. Erick T. Shriver, 17th Contracting Squadron, contract specialist.
 
Cabuang took on more of a noncommissioned officer's workload, and he always did it without complaining, and as a result he was awarded Senior Airmen below-the-zone, said Shriver.

His hard work was noticed at all levels. "One of the things I am most impressed with him is, he has stepped into the Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirement team, when he did that within a couple of weeks he was doing it by himself," said 2nd Lt. Spencer Jacobson, 17th Contracting Squadron Base Infrastructure Flight deputy flight chief.

I do not need to encourage him to strive for excellence, said Jacobson. During the month of March he was selected as the 17th Training Wing's performance spotlight for the month.

"The guy is amazing," said Jacobson. "He does everything that is asked of him all the time and he never settles for mediocrity,"

"Special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to expedite the application and naturalization process for current members of the U.S. armed forces from requirements and qualifications to become a citizen of the United States," according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. "He or she must demonstrate, good moral character, knowledge of the English language, knowledge of U.S. government and history, and attachment to the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution."

"When I first got here, I said, 'wow this place is awesome!' I am happy to be a part of the Air Force", said Cabuang.