Family and food keeps MacDill Airman’s Hispanic traditions alive

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Hispanic Heritage month is a time to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of the Hispanic and Latino community,” said Staff Sgt. Alejandra Laguna, NCO in charge of installation personnel readiness with the 6th Force Support Squadron.

For Laguna, the month long celebration brings back fond memories of her childhood, and provides an opportunity to share her traditions with fellow service members.

Laguna was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and at the age of five, moved to Houston, Texas.

“We moved around to a few states before finally settling in Houston,” said Laguna. “It wasn’t until we moved to New York and I started second grade that I learned to speak English. Even though we moved to the States in 1995, we still hold strong to our national roots.”

In 2010, Laguna embarked on a new journey that would set her apart from the rest of her family members.

“My family was hesitant about me joining the Air Force at first. They were unsure on how to take the news, but once they saw all the great things the Air Force had to offer, they were very supportive,” said Laguna

Laguna saw the Air Force as an opportunity to leave Houston and experience what the world had to offer.

The Air Force is full of diverse people, and it’s always fun to learn about different cultures through co-workers and friends,” said Laguna. 

This year, Laguna jumped at the opportunity to volunteer as a member of the Hispanic Heritage Month planning committee.

“Most of our traditions surround the holidays; however, the food keeps me in touch with my culture,” said Laguna. “Our ideal meal includes fried plantains, white cheese, rice, some sort of fried meat, sour cream (mantequilla), cabbage salad, and a cup of coffee or soda. For the holidays, similar to other Latin American countries, we have a Honduras version of tamales called “nacatamales” which are made in banana leaves.”

One of her favorite meals is sopa de capirotadas, which can be translated to “cheese ball soup.” It’s a soup with vegetables and dough balls stuffed with white cheese that her mom makes.

For Laguna’s family, food is what keeps the Hispanic traditions going from generation to generation. So Laguna wants to keep that heritage alive through her children.

As Laguna and her husband, Staff Sgt. David Humphreys, a Belize native, prepare to welcome their second child, they plan to instill the heritage and traditions they were raised with into their children, beginning with teaching them recipes to their favorite Hispanic dishes.

The former Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III once said “The greatest strength of our Airmen is their diversity! Each of them comes from a different background, a different family experience and a different social experience. Each brings a different set of skills and a unique perspective to the team. We just don’t celebrate diversity… we embrace it!”