By Senior Airman Christina Bennett, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 09, 2021
Staff Sgt. Felix Gomes, a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron unit deployment manager poses for a photo at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, India, Feb. 3, 2021. Gomes, a native of India, was deployed with the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron as a Hindi linguist to support the Aero India 2021 tradeshow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christina Bennett)
India native, Staff Sgt. Felix Gomes, is a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron unit deployment manager (UDM). Usually, he is one of the last stops Airmen make prior to deployment departure.
Recently, the tables have turned, and Gomes was deployed to India as a Hindi Linguist to support the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and the B-1B Lancer at Aero India 2021 – the largest tradeshow in the Indo-Pacific region.
Gomes was born in Kolkata, a city in West Bengal, India. He immigrated to the United States along with his family at the age of 21. He settled in Silver Spring, Maryland where he enlisted into the U.S. Air Force at the age of 25.
“I always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” said Gomes when asked why he enlisted. “It has been rooted in me to serve and have a positive impact on others. I always thought the uniform looked really good as well.”
At home station, Gomes is responsible for streamlining 28th LRS troops through the pre-deployment process by keeping track of the requirements necessary for Airmen to deploy. He ensures that Airmen are medically ready while scheduling individual trainings and briefings dependent on where Airmen are set to deploy.
At Aero India, Gomes was still serving Airmen but in a different capacity.
Gomes has helped minimize the language barrier between the 34th EBS troops and the local community. At one point he was sent out to procure a power drill that was needed to perform maintenance on the B-1. He was able to go out into the city of Bengaluru and communicate what was needed.
In addition, Gomes saw alternate aspects of the B-1 mission.
“As a UDM, I don’t get much time to visit the flightline. I’m familiar with what LRS does but I never get to see the mission from the maintenance perspective,” said Gomes. “A memorable moment for me was when the B-1 landed here in India and I watched as the maintainers hustled to receive the jet and perform their post-flight operations. Everyone had their own individual roles and jumped into action. Seeing how everything tied together was amazing to me.”
This deployment marks the first time in over 75 years that a U.S. bomber has landed in India. Gomes was appreciative to be a part of history while being a member of the U.S. Air Force.
“A proud moment for me was walking through Yelahanka Air Force Base where the tradeshow was taking place,” recalled Gomes. “I was proud because people were staring at me not because I’m Indian or because I have tattoos but because I was wearing the uniform and speaking their language.”
Gomes helped broaden knowledge of Indian culture, to include food recommendations, facts about Indian customs and courtesies or general information about the country. He also stressed that respect for people’s differences is important when building relationships.
“Humility is key,” advised Gomes. “It’s critical to understand the differences in people, their values, beliefs and cultures. This trip has been the first step of many in strengthening the partnership between the U.S. and India – two countries that are very important to me.”