Face of Defense: Rwanda-Born Airman Finds Success in Service


When he was a youth in Rwanda, Karl Mutangana dreamed of achieving a better life.

Today, Mutangana successfully serves as a senior airman and supply liaison for F-35 Lightning II aircraft parts with the 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron here.

“I’m grateful. Being in the United States Air Force is an enlightening experience,” Mutangana said. “It’s rewarding to see what I do supports the test aircraft and a larger mission.”

Mutangana, 22, was born in Kigali, Rwanda, and is the eldest of five siblings.

“Growing up in Rwanda had its ups and downs,” he said. “Sometimes, we didn’t have anything to eat. The entire community would be without food, so it didn’t bother us as much. We didn’t dwell on it. We just lived.”

Mutangana was 11 years old when his mother moved to America. He remained in Rwanda with his grandmother.

Arrival in America

Eventually, after three immigration application denials, Mutangana was granted a permanent residence card and joined his mother and his America-born siblings in Connecticut in 2015.

“There are no words to express how I felt when I was reunited with my family,” he said. “It was the happiest moment of life to finally hug my mum and meet my siblings.”

Mutangana found himself drawn to the Air Force’s culture of integrity and leadership.

“I…

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