Indigenous Airman reflects, shares heritage

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marcus Hardy-Bannerman
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany - A young boy rolls over in his bed and begins to slowly open his eyes. As they slowly blink open, the dark room and pitch-black view through the windows begin to convince the boy he still has time left to sleep. The sound of footsteps throughout the house, preparing for the new day, serves as an alarm bell, assuring him it is time to wake up and get to work.

The boy slowly pulls his sheets to the side, staring at the dark ceiling as he prepares to sit up. As he pulls his legs over the edge of the bed, he rubs the crust from the corner of his eyes and looks one more time out the window to confirm the blacked-out scenery. He stares out the window, pondering the list of chores awaiting him outside his room, considering the pros and cons of laying back down for a few more minutes of sleep. The thought never truly takes hold, though, as he knows his part in getting the family ready for the new day. With wood to chop and livestock to tend, his grandparent’s words ring louder than any feelings of drowsiness ever could.

“Don’t be lazy,” they’d say. “Don’t be lazy,” he tells himself. “Don’t be lazy,” he echoes one last time to himself.

Now energized and ready to start his day, the boy hops to his feet, makes his bed and gets dressed. These words would be a bed stone for the boy, guiding him through his life on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona and into his career with the U.S. Air Force.

Staff Sgt. Tranpas Hooke, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Alarm Systems noncommissioned officer in charge, brings the lessons from his upbringing on the San Carlos Reservation to work every day to benefit his Airmen, his shop and the Air Force as a whole.

“On the reservation, family is everything,” said Hooke. “The larger your family, the stronger the bond you have. My cousins were my brothers and sisters. My aunts, my uncles – they were my parents. Everyone had a hand in raising me.”

This valuation of family played a major role in Hooke’s decision to join the military. Coming from a line of military members, Hooke was determined to carry on the family tradition of serving his country.

Hooke is a third-generation military member. His grandfather on his father’s side was stationed at Pearl Harbor, his father served with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division before joining the Army National Guard, and his mother served in the Army National Guard. He also boasts siblings and cousins in the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy.

The traditions passed through Hooke’s family and community have been important in shaping the man he is today.

“My parents taught us about prayer and hard work,” said Hooke. “They told us if we are to be successful, we need to have both.”

Hooke seeks to embody the principle of hard work in everything he does and encourages his Airmen to do the same.

As a supervisor, Hooke ensures he and his Airmen put their best foot forward in every task they tackle by confirming they would be willing to put their name on the project, he said. Hooke wants his Airmen to be proud in the work they do and to carry their heads held high.

Whether it’s mentoring Airmen on how to be the best they can be or educating those around him on Native American culture as a member of the Indigenous community, Hooke understands the importance of educating those around him.

“Staff Sergeant Hooke is one of the hardest-working and most caring people,” said Staff Sgt. Frank Tomassi, 52nd CES Electrical Systems supervisor. “He constantly goes above and beyond for those around him.”

The lessons Hooke learned growing up shine through in all his work and put in full view the principles of hard work he learned on the reservation.

Hooke said he appreciates being able to represent his community. The biggest thing he would like people to understand is that Native Americans are diligently serving in the military, whether people notice it or not.

As a member of the Indigenous community, Hooke enjoys being a source of information and education for those interested in learning about Native American culture.

“Culturally, the stronger the bond you have with family, you can get through anything,” Hooke said. “And no matter the trials and tribulations you come across, it’s your family there for you.”