HomeNewsArticle Display

From refugee to Airman

U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Christiana Katta, 633rd Inpatient Squadron medical technician, poses for a portrait at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., August 23, 2017.

Airman 1st Class Christiana Katta, a 633rd Inpatient Squadron medical technician, poses for a portrait at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., August 23, 2017. In 2005, Katta and her family fled Liberia as refugees, in hopes of finding safety and opportunity in the U.S. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Alexandra Naranjo)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Christiana Katta (right), 633rd Inpatient Squadron medical technician, poses for a photo with her mother, Deborah Klimeh-Katta (center), in her home country of Liberia.

Airman 1st Class Christiana Katta (right), a 633rd Inpatient Squadron medical technician, poses for a photo with her mother, Deborah Klimeh-Katta (center), in her home country of Liberia, Africa. Katta and her family fled their home country in 2005 to start a new life in the U.S. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Christiana Katta, 633rd Inpatient Squadron medical technician, poses for a photo as a child. Katta’s first experience in a war zone was when she was just 2 years old. (Courtesy Photo)

Airman 1st Class Christiana Katta, a 633rd Inpatient Squadron medical technician, poses for a photo as a child. Katta’s first experience in a war zone was when she was just 2 years old. (Courtesy Photo)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

In the country of Liberia, Africa, a good day and bad day are extreme opposites–a difference of children playing in the street and going to war.

For locals like Christiana Katta, war zone experience came at an early age. She was just 2 years old when she and her family picked up all their belongings and moved every time war came near. Sometimes they’d walk for days at a time.

After years of living this life, finally in 2005, Katta and her family decided to leave their country and move to the U.S.

Now in the Air Force, Airman 1st Class Christiana Katta, a 633rd Inpatient Squadron Labor and Delivery medical technician, reflects on life experiences, which made her who she is today.

“We were scared to live in our own country,” said Katta, who came to the U.S. with her family as a refugee. “We always saw on TV, the life of Americans. It was the American dream; the big house, the two kids and the dog. We said, ‘one day we will achieve that.’”

However, there were many obstacles for Katta and her family.

“My mom came as a single mom,” said Katta. “We were foreign people, uneducated. Our situation was always a struggle. The whole culture was new for us, our accents were different-they were stronger and deeper.”

According to Katta, she also personally struggled with staying true to herself. She had difficulty trying to honor her culture while blending in with the U.S.

“I didn’t want to be African at one point,” said Katta. “I used to tell people I was Jamaican because that seemed more acceptable than being from one of the poorest countries in the world.”

Eventually, Katta came to accept her herself, using her experience as a young refugee to become a stronger person. According to Katta, going through those hardships made everything else seem easy. Even on her worst days, she remembers making it through what life threw her family’s way.

Thankful for the chance for a brighter future and in hopes of giving back to the country that provided her family the scarce commodity of safety during war, Katta decided to enlist in the Air Force.

“This is the first place I lived where I didn’t have to run or move,” said Katta. “A part of me felt like I owed this to the U.S. I also thought I had adapted well to the culture at this point and wanted my citizenship. It all went into play; I could get an education, earn my citizenship and have a stable career.”

As a member of the labor and delivery department, Katta said the biggest part of adjusting to her new job is the long work hours, but those hours don’t compare to the honor of caring for babies. Katta is usually found with a smile on her face, as she cares for newborns that she knows will have a brighter start than her own.

“This place can take its toll on a person, but she’s always excited to do her job,” said Airman 1st Class Jovanna Garretson, a 633rd IPTS medical technician. “She’s a very strong person to be able to go through all that and still want to care for others and speak her mind.”

For Katta, surviving a tough childhood and enduring a lot of emotional pain has given her a need to help others. She wants to give back, and is thankful that she gets to do that every day in a career and job that she finds meaningful.

“I love being a part of the Air Force,” said Katta. “I’m really excited to see where I can go with the tools the Air Force has given me.”

According to Katta, it’s important to share her story so that people know no matter what background they come from or struggles they went through, they can still make a difference in their life. For her, she was able to make that difference in her life by joining the Air Force.

“A part of me is scared sometimes to tell my story because I don’t want anybody to pity me,” said Katta. “I don’t want to be treated differently or looked at differently, but in a sense all of this has given me a voice and a story to tell.”

Engage

Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: When windshield wipers just don't cut it...the NFAC team at @AEDCnews recently added rain simulation to the organization’s po…
Twitter
Training for tomorrow's fight today. An #Airman demonstrations how to use a new virtual reality training station a… https://t.co/mTgEFxsuCv
Twitter
That's a lot of mileage. A KC-46 Pegasus refuels a C-17 Globemaster III over the Atlantic Ocean. The C-17 fleet hi… https://t.co/nPE3zqGW0g
Twitter
How do you balance protecting wildlife while also reducing the risk to Airmen? @JBLEnews partnered with @USDA and… https://t.co/XrrUTwGGZC
Twitter
Give @GenCQBrownJr a follow for the latest on how he's leading the charge to accelerate change throughout the… https://t.co/FjImSy8fw9
Twitter
RT @LloydAustin: To everyone on the force: I'm proud to be back on the team. https://t.co/3qyvmGMsu1
Twitter
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Airmen conduct first-ever refueling mission with Qatari Emiri Air Force This event bu… https://t.co/Pd7kzFXZqc
Twitter
With more than 69,000 sorties flown by 30 different types of aircraft, Operation Desert Storm marked the most rapid… https://t.co/2WXlQcSipC
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Congratulations, 2Lt Gerlica! #FlyFightWin https://t.co/gDrMYmTlAN
Twitter
Aggressive acceleration. An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 57th Wing takes off @NellisAFB. The wing’s missio… https://t.co/HG9t6c8pza
Twitter
RT @PANationalGuard: A KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 171st Air Refueling Wing sits on the flight line during the first snowfall of th…
Twitter
Falcons get thirsty too A U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender conducts aerial refueling with an F-16 Fighting Falcon in… https://t.co/QUsB3DDSrh
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: I’d say it’s long overdue... https://t.co/26nLAeVSjS Not all women have the same type of hair, and these standards nee…
Twitter
#AirForce women will now be allowed longer braids, ponytails and bangs while in uniform. These new changes will be… https://t.co/AFp18NftZJ
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: Ever wonder what it’s like to be a weapons #Airman? @AvianoAB’s 31st Maintenance Group invited Airmen from other career fi…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: "I’m eager to continue the momentum Secretary Barrett and these two great military leaders put into motion as we work to…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,315,344
Follow Us