Des Moines, Iowa -- Today, Technical Sergeant Patrick Kazeze proudly serves as an Air National Guard Technician and as a member of the 132nd Fighter Wing Base Honor Guard. As an Air Guardsman, he is part of a diverse team of 106,000 Americans on call in 50 states and 3 territories.
Kazeze is no stranger to diversity. He grew up in the African countries of Malawi and Ethiopia. As the child of a United Nations Statistician/ Demographer, he learned valuable life lesson that sticks with Him today.
"No man is an Island. There were people in bread lines, and the socialist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, would not accept outside help, "explained Kazeze. He explains that no man or country can go through life without help at some point. Hundreds of thousands were killed as a result of the use of hunger as a weapon under Mengistu's rule. Mengistu was overthrown, fled the country and was later convicted of genocide in absentia.
Kazeze appreciates where he is in life due to what he saw and experienced in Africa while growing up. Millions of Ethiopian people died of starvation before outside forces came in and set up refugee camps and started providing food. Kazeze and his family were part of the few lucky evacuees to Kenya. Not before Kazeze saw the suffering that humans endured in the area. Kazeze attended High School in Hailsham, England on the south coast near Brighton. Here Kazeze was exposed to many different cultures. This helped him learn even more about humanity and the world.
"I enjoyed time in England, school was like a big melting pot," Kazeze stated, "I made a lot of friends, and met people from every continent. Muslim, Buddhist, the whole gamut of religions. "When the time came for Kazeze to attend college, he set his sights on the United States. However, after 4 years in England, Patrick had picked up a thick British accent. He used VHS tapes of American television to study the American accent. Watching shows like 'The A-Team,' 'Knight Rider' and 'Battlestar Galactica' helped him learn the dialect.
Kazeze was now ready to attend college. He was granted a Student Visa and began his search for a University. Following in his father's footsteps, a Drake Alum, he looked into Iowa schools. Grand View University offered what he was looking for, and he majored in Television and Radio Production. During his time at Grandview he considered joining the military, but didn't at the time. The events of 9-11 renewed his interest in the military. By then Kazeze was 28 and too old to join active duty so he decided he could best serve our country as a member of 132nd Fighter Wing.
After Basic Training, Kazeze worked in Civil Engineering as an Electrical Power Production Specialist, and now works in Maintenance as an Aerial Ground Equipment Specialist. While in the Iowa Air National Guard, Kazeze became a United States citizen. Patrick reflected on a visit to see his parents who retired in Malawi. "It's interesting going back (to Malawi) as a United States citizen, I fly into Lilongwe, a big modern city, and as I go into the country it gets less and less developed, until it's just bushmen," explains Kazeze.
Even today Kazeze uses life-lessons he learned during his childhood in Africa. He is a well-rounded Airman, an American Citizen and he appreciates the time that he spent in Africa. He grew up to know that, as humans, we are all in this together and we all need each other in one way or another.