A talented bilingual Lubbock-born man is making a real difference in the U.S. Air Force with his native Swahili.

Now stationed in Baltimore, Maryland, Senior Airman Njukia Kiuri was born in Lubbock, but moved to his family's home country in Kenya before his first birthday. He later returned to the U.S. when he was 17.

Kiuri is fluent in both English and Swahili, and is grateful to have an opportunity to meet a need and bridge a gap faced in communication and customs. He shares his knowledge with those set to deploy to that part of the world.

Kiuri is described by fellow Airmen as someone with a smile to share, a positive spirit and a strong performer on every level. He has taken the initiative to teach and share Swahili and native customs, enabling officers to better communicate with and relate to Kenya and other East African communities.

"I have spoken Swahili and English my entire life. After moving back to the United States by myself when I was 17, I found that Swahili kept me feeling connected to my family and Kenyan heritage," Kiuri said. "Being able to bring part of my culture to my Air Force family and career has bridged a gap and been rewarding in allowing me to grow as a person and Airman."

He's received much praise by his commanders, too.

"It is inconceivable how much Njukia accomplishes on a daily basis, balancing his work and personal life," said Capt. Anita Labenski, 707th FSS section commander. "He performs exceedingly well at everything he does, and does so with a smile and incredible attention to detail. He is an absolute pleasure to be around and we feel extremely fortunate to have him on our FSS team. It will be a bittersweet day when he leaves our squadron and returns to his home in the 32nd IS."

You can follow this link to the inspiring full story of our Lubbock-born hero written by Senior Airman Gerald Willis.

We applaud his unique and tremendous effort, hard work and positive spirit. And our hats are off with many thanks to all those who serve and protect our great nation.

[via Senior Airman Gerald Willis, The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service]