#IamSCHRIEVER Portraits


Schriever Airmen reflect on journey to U.S. citizenship

Schriever Airmen reflect on journey to U.S. citizenship

Staff Sgt. Brendan Khan, 50th Comptroller Squadron resource advisor, and Airman 1st Class Denis Rodriguez Escobar, 50 CPTS civilian pay technician, stand at the entrance of DeKok Building Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Khan and Rodriguez Escobar spoke about their journeys to obtain U.S. citizenship. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)


The Department of Defense, along with the rest of the nation, commemorated Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Sept. 17 – 23.

Staff Sgt. Brendan Khan, 50th Comptroller Squadron resource advisor, and Airman 1st Class Denis Rodriguez Escobar, 50 CPTS civilian pay technician, are among those who have left their former homes overseas to become U.S. Airmen.

For Khan, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, his road to citizenship began earlier than Rodriguez Escobar’s.

“Growing up, especially on an island, was very laid back,” Khan said. “The lifestyle there is definitely not as busy compared to the U.S. I found that out once I moved to New York City.”

Khan was 18 years old when he made the move from Trinidad and Tobago to the U.S.

After attending New York University for over a year, he decided to switch gears and researched more about the military and the many opportunities available.

"Living in New York City and going to school no longer was feasible for me,” Khan said. “I researched what the best path for me was and I decided to join the Air Force because out of all the branches, I realized that is the one that provides the most opportunities and allows you to better yourself. It has definitely been a positive impact on me and has made me a better person.”

After enlisting in the Air Force in June 2012, he went on to earn his U.S. citizenship while stationed here in April 2014.

“For me, the citizenship process went smoothly,” Khan said. “Serving the U.S. and being able to say I am a citizen of this country is an amazing feeling for me.”

Currently, Rodriguez Escobar is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

“I was born in Masaya, Nicaragua,” he said. “My parents and I moved to Georgia when I was two years old to be with my grandparents. Eventually, we moved to Mississippi, which is where I spent most of my childhood years.”

While he has never been back to Nicaragua, Rodriguez Escobar said he wants to return as soon as he can to gain a better understanding of his origins.  

In June 2016, he decided to enlist in the Air Force.

“A huge reason why I pursued this path is because I want to give back to U.S.,” he said. “If I stayed in Nicaragua, my life would be completely different.”

Rodriguez Escobar’s road to U.S. citizenship follows his aunt’s footsteps.

“I am close to my aunt, who was also born in Nicaragua,” he said.  “Now she is a naturalized U.S. citizen serving in the Air Force. She was one of my biggest motivators to join the military.”

He looks forward to the day he will finally give his Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, just as she had.

“Growing up, I didn’t think much about my citizenship, but recently I have been wanting to pursue it,” Rodriguez Escobar said. “I’m currently waiting for the review date and interview. While I have always considered myself to be American, I know when that time comes, it will be official in my heart that I am finally a U.S. citizen.”

Though he is not officially a citizen, the Air Force has still provided and opened many doors for him.

“Sometimes I feel like I have too many options to choose from; however, I’m thankful for all the opportunities I have,” he said. “I’ve thought about taking college courses and also applying to the U.S. Air Force Academy. After obtaining my citizenship, commissioning is a goal I will definitely go after.”


Khan and Rodriguez Escobar have expressed their gratitude and pride to be a part of something bigger than themselves, both in the Air Force and United States, and are working every day to reach their goals.

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