Face of Defense: Airman Recounts Journey From War-Torn Lebanon to Air Force Service


Every airman has a story as to why they decided to serve and the journey that goes along with it.

Air Force Capt. Elie Elchartouni’s journey started under a much different set of circumstances than most, as he and his family waited 13 years to move to America from a country torn by a civil war.

“I am just one of thousands with an interesting journey,” said Elchartouni, the officer in charge of the 437th Maintenance Flight here. “Our Air Force is as diverse as it is powerful.”

Giving Back

Elchartouni speaks Arabic and French, and now often serves as a translator, but one of the biggest hurdles in his journey was learning English.

“I went to a school that taught in French, but at the age of 18, I began to learn English, which proved to be a challenge,” he said. “But I eventually learned it.”

Elchartouni and his family settled in California and he enrolled at San Jose State University, where he completed his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering.

“Shortly after I finished my degree, an opportunity in Silicon Valley came up, and before I knew it, I landed a job as an electrical engineer,” he said. “After four years with the company, and achieving a six-figure income, I realized how many opportunities I had received in the states and decided it was time to give back.”

Elchartouni decided…

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