Airman 1st Class Yunia Nakimbugwe, 765th Air Base Squadron financial operations technician at Lajes Field, Azores, grew up in the village of Nyabitete, Uganda. Growing up looked different than what many experience, but was nothing like the negative stereotype many may associate with Uganda or Africa at large.
“I had a happy childhood and was fortunate enough to attend good schools, and even got to travel a bit,” Nakimbugwe said.
Although her village was small, with roughly 3,000 people, Nakimbugwe feels as though she grew up with a large family spread across the globe.
“Apart from my sisters and brothers, we grew up with our cousins, aunties and uncles,” she said. “We are all really close and love to laugh. We laugh at and with each other, so I laugh a lot. I have family in every corner of the world – from Costa Rica, to the U.S., to China, to Australia. Look at me now in the Azores.”
At 32, Nakimbugwe had a steady job and was happy with her life. Although it sounds cliché, I was compelled to join the Air Force when I saw a recruiting commercial, she said.
“I saw a Go Army commercial and it really spoke to me,” she said. “I remember thinking ‘What am I doing starting over at 32?’ I left it all behind because I knew this is where I was supposed to be.”
Nakimbugwe is now serving at her first duty station in the Azores. She leverages military capabilities by ensuring pay and allowances are allocated properly. In turn, this aides the 765th ABS’s mission of providing strategic communication and power projection platforms to support global operations.
“Airman 1st Class Nakimbugwe is the face of finance at the 65th Air Base Group,” said Senior Airman Ariel Ciprian, 65th Comptroller Squadron financial services supervisor and Nakimbugwe’s trainer. “She ensures our Airmen receive their pay entitlements, which minimizes financial stressors and promotes peace of mind so our members can execute the mission.”
Nakimbugwe, recently named the 86th Airlift Wing’s Airlifter of the Week, helped lead the 65th Air Base Group’s Travel Pay section as well as conducted resiliency training for local nationals and Airmen. She also embodies the wingman ethos by assisting Airmen with personal and professional growth opportunities.
“She is always willing to help a fellow Airman, and her positive attitude has improved morale in her unit and beyond,” Ciprian said. “Nakimbugwe has an impeccable work ethic and does not shy away from challenges.”
Excited about her next assignment to Ramstein Air Base, Nakimbugwe is grateful for all the opportunities the Air Force has given her.
“I love my job and what I do. I love being a small part of something bigger to help people,” Nakimbugwe said. “I am very excited to see where this takes me in life.”