Joint Base San Antonio selects 2021 Fiesta Air Force ambassadors
By Rachel Kersey, 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 08, 2021
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas --
Joint Base San Antonio has selected two Airmen to represent the Air Force in the city’s annual Fiesta celebration. Tech. Sgts. Arturo Gomez Jr. and Lateshia Burgess will serve as Air Force ambassadors for Fiesta 2021, scheduled to take place April 15-25.
“The 2021 Fiesta Air Force ambassador selection process was extremely competitive,” said Chief Master Sgt. Wendell J. Snider, 502d Air Base Wing and JBSA command chief. “The ambassadors selected epitomize airmanship and professionalism.”
“All the nominees were exceptional,” Gomez said. “I did my best, and it’s a privilege to have been selected. I was ecstatic.”
Gomez, a 318th Training Squadron aircraft technical instructor, has been stationed at JBSA-Lackland for four years and teaches at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy.
“My job is to instruct basic and advanced principles of aircraft maintenance to 21 partner nation military and police forces throughout Latin America,” he explained. “All of our courses are taught in Spanish.”
Gomez joined the Air Force in August 2009. He did not know much about the military before joining, but recalled encountering an Air Force T-38 aircraft at Laughlin Air Force Base in his hometown, Del Rio, and said the excitement and thrill of the experience were unforgettable.
“I knew I wanted to be the first in my family to serve and start setting a path towards something much bigger than myself and make a positive impact for future generations,” he said. “Like many, my parents took risks and left their native homes many years ago for my sisters and me to have a better life than they had. I’m not sure I would’ve had the opportunity to serve if it were not for their sacrifices.”
Gomez has attended San Antonio’s Fiesta before and always enthusiastically looks forward to the food. Memorable moments for him include eating on the Riverwalk during the parades, winning a giant banana at the carnival, and sampling cuisine during Taste of New Orleans. He also enjoys the diversity of the event and how it brings people together.
“I look forward to celebrating with our community,” he said. “I would like to see everyone come together again — safely, of course — honoring our fallen heroes, celebrating Texas’ rich history, our military and the spirit of San Antonio. It is a reminder of the sacrifices made and the forever-fighting spirit of our military and community.”
“Sgt. Gomez is an extremely sharp Airman,” Snider added. “His character, confidence and communication skills wowed the panel. All of his unique attributes made him the ideal Air Force ambassador.”
Burgess is a clinic patient advocate for the 59th Medical Operations Wing and NCO in charge of the Women’s Health Clinic at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center at JBSA-Lackland, where she has been stationed for three years.
“I direct clinic operations for a 27-member team of military, contract and civilian personnel in the Defense Department's largest women's health clinic, which performs $1.3 million in gynecological health care services for 42,000 beneficiaries annually,” she said. “As a patient advocate, I resolve patient concerns while upholding safety standards.”
“Sgt. Burgess is a first-rate military professional,” Snider said. “Her leadership presence and commitment to community involvement make her an excellent Air Force ambassador.”
Burgess joined the Air Force in 2009 as well.
“I desired stability and more opportunities for myself to grow as a woman and leader,” she said, noting that in over a decade of military service, she has had many experiences doing just that.
Though Burgess has never attended Fiesta, she is eagerly anticipating the upcoming scheduled events.
“I am excited to learn about the multicultural aspects that make San Antonio a great place to live, love and have fun,” she said. “I am honored to represent the Air Force in Military City, USA.”
Fiesta San Antonio has a long history of bringing the community together to celebrate military achievements. It began in 1891 as a parade to memorialize those who fought in the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. It has expanded over the course of the last century to be one of the United States’ premier festivals, celebrating the rich cultural diversity of San Antonio.
“Fiesta San Antonio honors the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. Joint Base San Antonio members enjoy participating in the events and learning the city’s culture,” Snider concluded.