An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Airman uses Hindi to help birth country, adopted country

  • Published
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

Growing up in India, an Airman from the 821st Contingency Response Squadron knew opportunities weren’t going to come easy in his country. He knew if he ever made it to the United States he would have a chance to succeed. 

Since the age of two, Tech. Sgt. Jignesh Patel, 821st CRS unit equipment monitor, waited for his chance to move to the U.S. and take advantage of the endless amount of opportunities the country had to offer, starting with a scholarship.

“When I came to the U.S. I was only 16 years old,” said Patel. “I knew I had to work hard in high school to keep my grade point average up so I could get a scholarship and attend college for free.”

After getting a scholarship and attending college for a couple of years, Patel decided he wanted to be the first person in his family to join the military.

“America has treated my family so well, and we were able to accomplish so much here that was not possible in India,” said Patel. “So I just wanted to show my appreciation and love for the country.”

Patel moved to the country shortly before the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and he explains how it affected him and his decision to join the U.S. Air Force.

“When the terror attacks first happened, I really didn’t understand what was going on, but as I got older I knew I had to join to give back to this country and try to make a difference,” he said. “Since joining in 2005, the military has been amazing for me. I have been able to travel the world and go places I never thought I would visit in my lifetime.”

Patel is still taking advantage of the opportunities that are coming his way, this time it’s with the ability to speak more than one language.

He is a part of the Air Force Culture and Language Center, which offers the Language Enabled Airman Program. The programs goal is to sustain, enhance and utilize the existing language skills and talents of Airmen. LEAP develops a core group of general-purpose force Airmen across specialties and careers possessing the capability to communicate in one or more foreign languages.

“The program has been nothing short of amazing,” he said. “Because of this program, I have been able to travel to different countries to practice and better my Hindi.”

His most recent trip sent him to Nepal where he would visit orphanages and give back to the local community when he wasn’t in class or studying.

“On the weekends and any other chance I got, I would go to orphanages and play games with the children, such as soccer and occasionally teach them English,” he said. “They were really excited to see me, it’s not often they get visitors to play with them, so they really enjoyed it. Seeing them smile and happy makes it all worth it.”

On a number of deployments, the Airman had a chance to showcase his ability to speak another language.

“Being from India and deploying to some of the places and actually getting the chance to use my native language has served me well.” said Patel. “On several occasions I had the chance to diffuse situations because of a lapse in the language barrier and I was asked to translate during an investigation.”

Deployments aren’t the only place Patel gets to show off his skills in writing and speaking Hindi.

 “Just recently, I had the chance to work on the Hindi Defense Proficiency Language Test,” he said. “We went in and made corrections to the test. It’s a good feeling knowing I didn’t only help the Air Force, but the entire DOD to ensure students are getting the correct information.” 

Members of his current squadron speak highly of him.

“He is hardworking and a great person to be around,” said Tech Sgt. Jenna Williams. “He wants to excel in everything he does and that motivates everyone else around the office.”

Patel is currently taking classes to finish his degree and training to become a ramp coordinator for the 621st Contingency Response Wing.