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News > Iowa Airman learned from harsh childhood experiences in Africa
Technical Sgt. Patrick Kazeze,  Iowa Air National Guard 132nd Fighter Wing, as part of an Honor Guard Detail
Tech. Sgt. Patrick Kazeze performs duty in the 132nd Fighter Wing Honor Guard during the 2012 Annual Awards Ceremony held in the hangar of the 132FW in Des Moines on Nov. 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Linda K. Burger)
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Iowa Airman learned from harsh childhood experiences in Africa

Posted 1/9/2013   Updated 1/10/2013 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Todd Moomaw and Tech. Sgt. Sara Robinson
132 Fighter Wing

1/9/2013 - DES MOINES, Iowa -- Tech. Sgt. 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 comprises 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 says he learned valuable life lessons that stick with him today.
"No man is an island. There were people in bread lines, and Ethiopia's socialist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, would not accept outside help," Kazeze said. He learned 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 to Zimbabwe and was convicted of genocide in absentia.

Kazeze appreciates where he is in life due to what he saw and experienced in Africa while growing up. Eventually, outside forces set up refugee camps and started providing food. Kazeze and his family were part of the few lucky evacuees to Kenya.

Attending high school in Hailsham, England, exposed him to many different cultures.

"I enjoyed time in England, school was like a big melting pot," Kazeze said. "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 four years in England, he had picked up a thick British accent.

He watched VHS tapes of U.S. 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. 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.

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. He now works in maintenance as an aerial ground equipment specialist.

While in the Iowa Air National Guard, Kazeze became a United States citizen. He 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," he said.

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.

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