POPE FIELD, North Carolina --
For U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mervale Abraham, his late mother greatly influenced him, pushing him to take full advantage of educational opportunities because she wanted her children to have a better life than she did. Today, the 43rd Air Mobility Squadron Air Freight Technician strives to do the same for his family.
The air freight technician for the 43rd Air Mobility Squadron arrived in the United States in 2019 from Grenada, an island country that is half the size of Fort Bragg. Further instilling his mother’s view on the importance of education, he spent 13 years teaching math and geography at his high school alma mater, after graduating from college.
Throughout those 13 years, he kept his eye on the internet. Not for fun. Not for entertainment. He watched as his application for a green card slowly inched its way to the top of the priority list so he could join his brother, who was already stateside serving in the U.S. Army.
Upon arrival, his question to himself was simple, “How do I equate myself to a 33-year-old American?” It was time to reinvent himself – time for him to do whatever he chose. And he chose to “aim high,” but the problem was the Air Force wasn’t quite ready to welcome him just yet.
With the stress of moving across the country and separating himself from his family in Grenada, Abraham gained more weight than usual and found himself approaching 240 pounds, a detriment to joining the Air Force. He took to dieting and working out, dropping nearly 50 pounds while waiting for his social security card to arrive. In the meantime, he worked for Uhaul to make ends meet while getting everything in check for the Air Force.
In May 2020, he left Pennsylvania, where had been living with his brother and sister, and set his sights on basic training. As a non-citizen, career choices were limited, but ultimately put his love of physics and math into being an air freight technician.
“I was raised by a single mom who worked hard to make her children’s lives better,” Abraham said. “She wasn’t really close to her parents and was one of nine children raised by her grandparents. She pushed education because she knew it would provide a better life for me and my family. I wish she could see us now. I think we’ve done so much more than she even thought possible. It was because of her.”
She wouldn’t be the only one proud of his accomplishments. “Airman 1st Class Abraham is a very motivated and invaluable member of our team,” commented Lt. Col. Metodi Roulev, 43rd Air Mobility Squadron commander. “He brings common sense, maturity and positivity, he has the right attitude and approach to his air freight technician duties, and as an Airman in our Air Force.
“As a fellow naturalized U.S. citizen, I know the benefits of his background, culture, perspective and outlook. He is a daily reminder to all around him that great things happen when you set goals and dreams in life, and you follow them. Mervale embodies diversity – the greatest strength of our Air Force team.”
What is his hope that others learn from sharing his story?
“You’re never too old. You’re never at the end of a journey. I hope others appreciate what we do and our country. Appreciate where you come from but the journey doesn’t stop, you just have to take advantage of it. As long as I’m here, I won’t take anything for granted. I’m going to do my best just like I did as a teacher. I’ll never limit myself on anything and I hope others will do the same.”
(**UPDATE** - A1C Abraham officially became a United States citizen in late June, 2021.)