Captain rubs elbows with 'big wigs' at Andrews
By Ben Newell, Air Force District of Washington Staff Writer
/ Published June 05, 2009
AIR FORCE DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON -- Captain Nestor Jimenez, 316th Wing Protocol specialist, grew up in a small town outside of Aibonito, Puerto Rico, where the roads were so dangerous his mother passed wrecks on the way to work daily. Now, Captain Jimenez strolls across some of the most inspected asphalt on earth to greet foreign dignitaries, including the U.S. Commander-in-Chief.
Captain Jimenez' unit is responsible for manning the Distinguished Visitors lounge on Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Located within the Passenger Terminal, the "DV" lounge is a plush room, filled with pictures of military brass, overstuffed chairs and mahogany furniture.
Perched behind a desk within the lounge, Jimenez monitors an LCD screen with air traffic and weather information, while keeping the tight schedule required for smooth operations. "I love the interaction. There are few places I can get to see and talk to people like this every day."
His wing handles upwards of 80 DV missions weekly. Every distinguished visitor, including four star generals, veterans, politicians and celebrities, require the protocol division to handle greetings upon their arrival. Arrivals may utilize the DV lounge, or head straight to their waiting vehicles on the Tarmac. Either contingency requires coordination with rental agencies, food concessions and family members.
On a typical week, Captain Jimenez sees the President of the United States three times. He has discussed Wyoming ranch life with former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, and talked fashion with former first lady, Laura Bush.
"I moved here to learn english," said Captain Jimenez, "and my experience with the Air Force was so good that I ended up sticking around."
His parents, for their part, are more than pleased that their son, who moved from his hometown at 22, now mixes with foreign dignitaries and even the Pope. "Who knows if they have told some of my stories back home," said Captain Jimenez, "but I just hope that I've helped some of the kids in my neighborhood to make a jump into different circumstances."
Captain Jimenez picked up this job at the 316 WG when a fellow servicemember was deployed abroad. However, he has no plans to change assignments. "I want to put in as much time here as possible," said Captain Jimenez. "It's just so interesting every day, that view always changes," he said as a jet carrying Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano pulled up on the tarmac.