Recuerdos de mi Padre...a Tribute

Posted Mar 18 2006

My father recently retired from the United States Air Force after thirty years and I had an opportunity to reflect on his service. (Mi Gente, October 2000)

It's not too often that a child has an opportunity to show his appreciation for his or her parents in a public forum such as a magazine or newspaper.

Having said that, I have to thank Mi Gente for giving me space to recognize my father, Daniel Zarazua. He recently retired after 30 years of service in the United States Air Force. During his time, he served his country in places such as Italy, Taiwan, the Philippines and domestic locations such as California and Alabama.

While he always taught my sister Monica and me to be humble, I would be remiss if I did not ackhowledge some of his many accomplishments. Among them, he was awarded several honors, including the Meritorious Service Medal, and at the age of 37, he became one of the first Latinos to ever achieve the rank of Chief Master Sergeant.

At the time of his retirement, he was assigned to the Air Mobility Command Headquarters as the command medical services manager and was the senior enlisted representative to the Surgeon General, Air Mobility Command. His duties included overseeing the administration and management of several hospitals.

In recognition of his contributions, a flag was flown in his honor over our nation's capitol and he was given a tribute in the House of Representatives. Yet until his actual retirement ceremony, I was unaware of 90% of these accomplishments. As his son, I didn't know him as CMSGT Zarazua or "Chief Z." I simply knew him as "Dad."

Although my relationship with him is a lot more personal, he is still, of course, a positive role model in shaping many of my values. Without a doubt, the value of hard work is near the top.

I remember him attending college classes while working full-time. When it was all said and done, he earned four degrees, including a Master's Degree in Personnel Management.

The importance of obtaining a good education went without saying. Even more significant was his loyalty to family. While his schedule kept him away form us more than we would have liked, I appreciated his attendance at events such as my high school football games and our many nights of card playing as a family.

In spite of our constant moving, he stayed in steady contact with with my grandparents, Anthony and Eulalia Stricker of Reese, MI. The lesson? To stay grounded and never forget where you come from.

Complementing that ideal is his willingness to help others in need. Recently, a women's basketball team was in need of a coach and they approached my father about the position. He agreed to do it. The catch? My father didn't know anything about basketball! While they wouldn't quite make a run for the WNBA title, I saw a real life example of a "can-do" attitude.


1. Tamica said at November 7, 2006 5:01 pm:

I had never read this before today. The only reason that I even came to this page was that I Googled Monica\\\'s name (trying to find her e-mail address) and came across the article. What a wonderful tribute. Not just the article, but having you as a son. You are one of the best people that I know and if I have not said it before, I feel fortunate to have you as a friend.

2. Martin Rey Rochin Inda said at June 28, 2008 8:11 pm:

Beautiful. Your father's accomplishments are inspiring, as well as your mother's dedication. More fathers and role models, such as your parents and yourself, would do this world well.

3. Carmen Stricker said at November 11, 2008 8:05 pm:

Cousin Mingo, I just came across this article. It is very touching and says a lot about the wonderful parents you have. We truly come from one awesome family!

4. suellen castellon said at September 9, 2012 10:55 am:

your dad was my first supervisor while i served in the usaf. he was a role model, friend, and great influence on my life! this article was a testimony to how deeply he touches peoples lives!

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