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Humans of Scott: Col. Daniel Mendoza leads AF wide HEAT team

U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Mendoza, United States Transportation Command global bulk fuels division chief, and co-leader of the Hispanic Empowerment and Advancement Team, stands in front of a mural for a photo during Hispanic Heritage month on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Oct. 2nd, 2023. HEATs main duties include reviewing and analyzing documents, policies and Air Force instruction, and seeing if there are any potential barriers to recruitment, promotion or retention for the Hispanic community.

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --  As Hispanic Heritage Month continues its festivities across Team Scott, at the heart of the celebrations stands Col. Daniel Mendoza, United States Transportation Command global bulk fuels division chief, and co-leader of the Air Force wide Hispanic Empowerment and Advancement Team. 


Growing up in Miami, Mendoza was the son of two immigrants from Bolivia. Throughout his childhood, Mendoza had to watch his parents find work and while continuing the nuances of the immigration process.   


Family has consistently held a significant role in Mendoza's life, shaping his morals, values and identity over his 20 years of service. Mendoza reflected on the memory of his mom in court from when the judge asked her why she deserved citizenship. 


“Of all things, my mom decided to show the judge my report card,” Mendoza shared. “That's kind of proof that I had good grades, and that we had a future here.”


Mendoza’s drive to join the Air Force was majorly influenced by his parents' sense of dedication to stay and prosper in the U.S. His inspiration to become a service member started at an air show he attended at seven. He knew that he would work to become the best he could and make his parents' hard work pay off, giving back to his country.


“From a young age, I always understood that family was so important. Seeing all the opportunities people had in the United States, I realized it doesn't matter where you come from, or how much money you have, if you work hard enough you can be and do anything that you want,” said Mendoza. “I knew I wanted to give back; I knew I wanted to serve. There was no question there.”


Mendoza began his career in the ROTC program at his college, getting a degree in Liberal Arts. Before starting his position at USTRANSCOM as the bulk fuels division chief, he worked in a maintenance squadron, before cross-training and getting his wings, leading him to fly C-130s. 


Currently, Mendoza is the co-lead of HEAT while stationed at Scott. He describes the program as a part of the Department of the Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Group; their main duties include reviewing and analyzing documents, policies and Air Force instruction, and seeing if there are any potential barriers to recruitment, promotion or retention for the Hispanic community.


“We serve a community of over 52,000 Hispanic, Latino and Latina Airmen,” explains Mendoza. “Our lines of effort are focused around recruiting and retention, reaching out across the community, meeting them on their terms and showing them visible proof that there's a path of success for them in the Air Force.”


Mendoza uses his 20 years of experience in the service to direct his energy towards HEAT. Inspired by Airmen he has met through friendships and his own assignments, he believes everyone has a similar set of values while serving, and every airman is worth fighting for.


“When you look at Hispanic Heritage Month, it's important to be able to understand and recognize the contributions that the community has made within the Department of the Air Force and different services,” described Mendoza. “We're all one big family working together.”


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