Airman helps people smile

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Mark Pinto, 423rd Medical Squadron dental technician, has traveled over 7,000 miles to join the estimated 22.6 million population of Asian Americans.

Pinto was born and raised in Manilla, Philippines. His parents moved to America to look for better opportunities, leaving 11-year-old Pinto in the care of his older sister. At 18, he joined his parents in Las Vegas and worked at a farmer’s market, before making the decision to join the U.S. Air Force. He wanted to become more independent, find better opportunities and travel. While he was in Basic Military Training, he took the oath to become an American citizen.

“I’m American, but I’m still Filipino. I will not forget my heritage,” said Pinto. “Having a background from a developing nation taught me how to be humble and grateful with what we have.”

As a dental technician, Pinto sees value in helping people gain confidence in their smile.

“I like to accommodate people and give the best care that I can give,” said Pinto. “I assist the dentist from regular check-ups to actual surgery. We also manage patient dental records and clean dental instruments.”

Pinto’s last name means painter. Although he doesn’t paint physical canvases, his personality and inclusive attitude draw people toward him.

According to Pinto, diversity and open-mindedness are important, because they help to prevent racism.

“Having a diverse population in a community helps us understand each other and be more open-minded about other people’s cultures,” said Pinto. “When someone is narrow-minded, that’s where racism begins. Understanding each other and having a diverse community is better for the Air Force.”

Pinto often organizes trips with other Airmen, traveling and photographing his experiences along the way.

May is Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time when we recognize the history and achievements of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Throughout U.S. history, members of the AANHPI community have championed the American values of commitment, hard work, excellence and perseverance. They have led the way in culture and the arts, law, science and technology, sports and public service – including the armed forces.

President Joe Biden proclaimed May 2021 Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, saying “My administration is committed to a whole-of-government effort to advance equity, root out racial injustices in our federal institutions, and finally deliver the promise of America for all Americans.”