Airmen From Around the World Find Home in Michigan ANG

131218-Z-VA676-009 – Airman 1st Class Eduardo Arteaga shows off the certificate which declares him to be an American citizen, just moments after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States during a ceremony on Feb. 18, 2014. Arteaga recently joined the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing, which helped to facilitate his quest to become a U.S. citizen. The photo of Arteaga on the certificate was taken while Arteaga was at Basic Military Training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Dan Heaton / Released)

131218-Z-VA676-009 – Airman 1st Class Eduardo Arteaga shows off the certificate which declares him to be an American citizen, just moments after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States during a ceremony on Feb. 18, 2014. Arteaga recently joined the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing, which helped to facilitate his quest to become a U.S. citizen. The photo of Arteaga on the certificate was taken while Arteaga was at Basic Military Training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Dan Heaton / Released)

131218-Z-VA676-001 – Airman 1st Class Eduardo Arteaga takes the Oath of Allegiance to the United States to become an American citizen during a ceremony on Feb. 18, 2014. Arteaga recently joined the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing, which helped to facilitate his quest to become a U.S. citizen. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Dan Heaton / Released)

131218-Z-VA676-001 – Airman 1st Class Eduardo Arteaga takes the Oath of Allegiance to the United States to become an American citizen during a ceremony on Feb. 18, 2014. Arteaga recently joined the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing, which helped to facilitate his quest to become a U.S. citizen. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Dan Heaton / Released)

140209-Z-EZ686-084 – Airman 1st Class Sarah Adams is seen in her equipment used as a member of the 127th Security Forces Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Feb. 9, 2014. Adams was born in the Philippines and moved to Michigan when she began college. She said she found a sense of belonging and direction when she joined the Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by MSgt. David Kujawa / Released)

140209-Z-EZ686-084 – Airman 1st Class Sarah Adams is seen in her equipment used as a member of the 127th Security Forces Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Feb. 9, 2014. Adams was born in the Philippines and moved to Michigan when she began college. She said she found a sense of belonging and direction when she joined the Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by MSgt. David Kujawa / Released)

140208-Z-VA676-079 -- Airman 1st Class Elvira Shani serves an Airman during lunch at the Dining Facility at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Feb. 8, 2014. Shani, a native of Albania, joined the Air National Guard on the day before her 40th birthday – the last day she was eligible to join – as a way to say thank you to America for the opportunities she has found since to immigrated to the U.S. about 10 years ago. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Dan Heaton / Released)

140208-Z-VA676-079 -- Airman 1st Class Elvira Shani serves an Airman during lunch at the Dining Facility at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Feb. 8, 2014. Shani, a native of Albania, joined the Air National Guard on the day before her 40th birthday – the last day she was eligible to join – as a way to say thank you to America for the opportunities she has found since to immigrated to the U.S. about 10 years ago. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Dan Heaton / Released)

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- (Part of a series of stories about Michigan Air National Guard Airman originally from different countries.)

Every Airman has a story.

In fact, says Airman 1st Class Sarah Adams, one of the best things about the Air Force is that every Airman has a unique story.

"Everyone is from a different place, has been to different places around the world," she said. "I feel like I fit in perfectly."

Adams is one of three people who recently joined the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing with one unusual similarity in their background: none of them were born in the United States. Adams was born in the Philippines and adopted by a family of American missionaries. Airman 1st Class Elvira Shani, originally from Albania, said she joined the Air National Guard to say thank you to her new country. And then there's Airman 1st Class Eduardo Arteaga, a native of Mexico. Twice he was ordered deported for being in the country illegally - and now he wears the uniform of an American Airman.

"Sometimes, I..." Arteaga says and then gazes off into the distance. "I mean, I can't even believe it myself. To be an American citizen, it's like being able to breathe for the first time."

Welcoming in new Airmen from such diverse backgrounds strengthens not only the 127th Wing, but the Air Force as a whole, said 1st Lt. Valerie Ward, equal opportunity officer for the Wing.

"Without diversity among our members, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the enemies of the world. We would all be thinking the same, acting the same and looking in the same direction, Ward said. "Aristotle said, 'The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.' And that is definitely true in our Air Force today."

The 127th Wing is comprised of almost 1,700 people. Some of them were born in the shadow of Selfridge Air National Guard Base, the 96-year-old air field in the suburbs of Detroit where the wing is based. Some of them come from much, much farther away. The stories of three of those Airmen can be found at by following the attached links.