Voices of the VaANG: Staff Sgt. Herold Desauguste

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lucretia Cunningham
  • 192nd Wing

“Believe it or not, being a translator can be a very, very hard job. Especially, remember when you do it in two languages that you learn, not your mother language. My language is Haitian Creole but we learn French in school. And especially English too. I still believe I’m still learning English and then I do have an accent because you’re never finish learn a language. Sometimes, it can be very stressful.

I was born in a outside city, central of Haiti called Hinche. When I turned seven or eight years old, I moved because my mom got a job in the capital city, it’s Port-au-Prince. I lived there from seven all the way to 20 years old when I came in the states. I was a graduate from high school, and then I came in the states in 2000.

One thing I remember, because when we came in the states, we came to JFK Airport in New York City. Actually, when we landing I was so excited to see buildings, stuff like that. When I see traffic I said, ‘Oh!’ At that time, I didn’t know how to drive. I said, ‘I wish I had learn how to drive in my country because would I ever be able to drive in the state?’ The traffic was so dense in New York City.

Another fear was learning the language. I did not know pretty much anything in English. Even when I was in high school, they try to do the beginning with you. But, when you came in the state, people speaking the language, it’s complicated. Even when we went to ESL (English as a second language). For me, I wanted to speak it so bad; I was really inpatient. My friends who came before say ‘just relax, you’re going to learn it, you’re going to speak it without you knowing.’

My mom was a nurse and my dad was a nurse also. Actually, I remember when I was a child, my dream was to be a doctor. When I came in the states, things got a little bit changed and then I end up join the military. When I was in the Navy, I was actually a aircraft mechanic — I work on the 860 helicopters. That’s what brought me to Virginia. I did four years active duty in the Navy; I was station in Norfolk base. I got out active duty, I went to college, I stay in the reserve.

After the first year of college, I was looking for jobs opportunity in the Navy. I been doing like a part-time job back and forth, and at the end, they call me for a position to be a [French] translator. I was station in Naples, Italy, for a year, I was going back and forth to Africa. I did it for a year, orders ended, and then they ask me if I want to do it again — I did it for a second year.

The thing was, on my last year in Italy, I wanted my mom to come visit before I get out October 2012. She came to see me in that summer time because she’s Catholic. When you’re Catholic, going to visit Vatican in Rome mean a lot to you. She was very excited. She knows because I was in the military I had the opportunity to station there. They [my family] all appreciate the military and they understand me now. She passed away six months after she come back.”
—Staff Sgt. Herold Desauguste, 192nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament technician