"Patriotic Arab Americans Making a Difference"

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Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force

Arab American Woman Defends America
Name: Rima Kassis
Rank: Master Sergeant
Branch: US Air Force
Status: Active Duty
Billet: Instructor,Jet Aircraft Mechanic

I am first generation American. My mom, dad, sister and brother came to America in 1957. They came from Lebanon. My dad was Palestinian and my mom is Lebanese.

As I grew up I always thought about the fact that if they hadn't come to America, I may not have been born. I had always had an interest in the mlitary due to the discipline. Couple
that with the fact that I wanted to pay back America giving my family the opportunity to come here, I joined the USAF in 1986.

I have had a blessed career:

I trained at Sheppard AFB, TX and Reese AFB, TX before coming to Beale AFB, CA.
Other than a remote tour to Korea in 1995-1996, I have been at Beale since 1987.

Next month I will PCS to Sheppard AFB.
I am an aircraft mechanic that has worked on T-38s, KC-135s and the U-2. I
am now teaching young crew chiefs on the basics of the U-2. I love this job! Watching young airmen evolve to qualified mechanics is very fulfilling! II will miss it.

It was funny how during desert storm many of my co-workers in my squadron made anti-Arab comments freely in front of me! They all thought I was Hispanic.
Boy were they shocked when I proudly stated "I am an Arab-American". Many walked away but some actually asked questions about my culture. Even now, I speak proudly of my ethnicity and defy anyone to say I am not a true American!

I am writing this on sept 11th, so I want to relate a story from last sept. I was "stuck" in San Diego on a TDY. When I managed to return to Sacramento
airport, I had to wait for my ride and luggage. I sat outside reading and trying to enjoy that I was actually home and safe. A older man was sitting
next to me and we started to discuss Sept 11th. I had seen people acting so nice and friendly the past 4 days, this was not going to be a problem. UNTIL: he
started making anti-Arab comments. I was infuriated! I quickly informed him that I was an Arab AND I was in the US military! I thought he was going to croak. He got up and walked away.

I was glad he did!






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