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Airman gives back by serving as translator for COVID vaccinations

A man and woman sitting at a desk

Tech. Sgt. Hugo Perez, an enlisted accessions recruiter with the 349th Recruiting Squadron, volunteered 10 hours on March 13 as a translator at two different large-scale coronavirus vaccination sites. He worked alongside, Srija Nuguri, a volunteer from the University of Oklahoma. (Courtesy photo)

Photo of people in lines in a building

Oklahoma City’s Yale Theater was one of two venues that held large-scale coronavirus vaccinations on March 13. Tech. Sgt. Hugo Perez, an enlisted accessions recruiter with the 349th Recruiting Squadron, spent the morning as an English to Spanish translator at the event. (Courtesy photo)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

If you put a photo to the Air Force Core Values, you may see the face of a technical sergeant from the 349th Recruiting Squadron looking back at you.

That face could belong to Tech. Sgt. Hugo Perez, an enlisted accessions recruiter, who not only embodies “service before self” in his job but also out in his community.

On March 13, Perez spent around 10 hours in two different locations around Oklahoma City as a volunteer translating coronavirus vaccinations to the Hispanic community.

“I did this as an opportunity to give back, develop my language skills and build relationships with Oklahoma City,” he said. “Plus, I got to represent the Air Force in a good light.”

It was a long, busy day of vaccinations. Perez said around 4,000 people came through the line to be vaccinated.

“We worked non-stop, but it was worth it to see a great turn out from the Hispanic community,” he said.

Perez credited the training he received from the Air Force through LEAP, or Language Enable Airman Program, for allowing him to help. A few years ago, the Air Force sent him to a Spanish Academy in Costa Rica to hone his skills as a translator.

Serving and being active in his community are important to Perez. He is a member of the Oklahoma Latino Youth Professional Group, which provides the community with information on leadership development, resources and job or volunteer duties. That’s how he learned about the opportunity to help out with the large-scale vaccination effort.

“The reason why I do this is to break barriers and stereotypes about the military to the community,” he said. “I want to help or serve my community in any way I can.”