Strength in family

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Trenten Walters
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

From an island in the North Atlantic Sea to moving across the world to Bamberg, Germany, Madeline Salazar’s values of family and heritage have never shifted.
Salazar, Army and Air Force Exchange Services general manager, was born off the southern coast of the tropical island of Puerto Rico in Ponce where she spent most of her childhood. She is her parent’s second oldest child with one brother and five sisters.

Her family arrived in Germany when Salazar’s father was stationed in Bamberg. After graduating high school, the family made their way back home to Puerto Rico.

“My parents have taught me to always be positive,” said Salazar. “My mom always looks for the good and my dad is a very humble guy. They raised me to look at what I can do for others and make sure that whatever I'm doing, I'm doing it right.”

Her family has been serving in the armed forces for three generations and finding a career in a company that supports troops and their families made sense to her.

“When I was 22, I said, ‘I'm going to AAFES and getting a job,’ and they hired me as an ID checker,” said Salazar. “I fell in love with it and stayed. It's going to be 28 years now that I have worked with them. It's a great honor and a great blessing that I work for this company, especially when my dad and grandpa were in the military and my daughter is active duty in the Army.”

Over the years Salazar has held a variety of positions in different Exchange locations within AAFES. Now, she oversees four locations; Keesler Air Force Base, Camp Shelby Thompson Field and Gulfport National Guard.

“I think our culture is unique, we are very tight-knit and family orientated,” said Salazar. “Growing up in the Puerto Rician culture has shaped my values and who I am today. Not only am I proud to be Hispanic, but Puerto Rician too.”