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Native American Heritage Month: 1st Lt. Marcus Abrams, Mohawk of the Haudenosaunee

  • Published
  • By Karen Petitt
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs Office

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Illinois – 1st Lt. Marcus Abrams, a cyber officer with the 618th Air Communications Squadron, grew up on the Allegany Indian Reservation in western New York until lacrosse and a desire to serve his country brought him to the Air Force.

He is a member of the Mohawk of the Haudenosaunee, which is parent to six tribes or territories—often referred to as the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy.  The other nations are the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora.   

His life near Buffalo consisted of “a lot of time outdoors” on four-wheelers, hunting, fishing, and spending time with family.  But it was lacrosse that opened the doors to life outside the reservation and eventually recruitment to the Air Force Academy.

“At 14, my parents decided to move me and my sister to Raleigh, North Carolina, in hopes of a fresh start for them as well as expanded opportunities for me,” he said. The transition for him was hard—going from a small school of maybe 80 students to a high school class size of 800.  He said it was a difficult time of transition, but that sports helped him make friends and with the encouragement of his parents, set his sight on the Air Force Academy, who recruited him that freshman year that he moved.

“My father and grandfather are veterans of the military—Air Force and Army—and instilled in me a desire to serve. I still had to work on my grades and go through the process of getting endorsements for the Academy, but it was pretty much decided by then.”

He spent a year in the Air Force’s prep school for the Academy, and after one season of lacrosse as a Freshman he decided he needed to focus on his studies, so he dropped the sport.

“By this time, the sport had become a job to me, and it was difficult to maintain grades and the time needed for the team. It was a tough decision, but it allowed me to focus on my studies,” he explained. Because of his dedication to academics, he got his top choice of career fields—cyber operations, and after training at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, he was stationed at Scott.

“It’s been a tight knit community here with a lot of camaraderie in the cyber operations teams, with an important mission of supporting the 618th Air Operations Center—the hub for movement of aircraft across the Air Mobility Command,” he said.

He’s spent the past few years ensuring the command and control systems were fully functional for the warfighters, and is now looking to move back East as he takes a job in January at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.  His new role will be supporting the life cycle management for systems that “provide the connectivity for and between warfighters with items such as radar, communication and intelligence systems, command and operations centers and network infrastructure and cyber defense.”

He said he’s excited to be moving back closer to his roots and exploring the Boston area, and just like here, he’ll continue to play intramural lacrosse.

“My parents are hard workers and demonstrate a work ethic that if you say you’re going to do something, then you do it. They’re always true to their word, and they’ve been big influences on my life. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, for their sacrifices along the way and for them teaching me to be proud of our heritage. I’m happy to share that with others and how the Air Force has provided an avenue for me to do the work I enjoy doing.”