News | Oct. 13, 2021

European American Heritage Month Spotlight: Ferdinand “Fred” Tramontin

By DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation recognizes European American heritage during the month of October. DLA Aviation’s theme is “Reflections of Culture, Pride, Diversity and the American Dream.” This observance is an opportunity for DLA Aviation to recognize and celebrate European American Heritage, to include German American Heritage, Italian American Heritage, and Polish American Heritage. Whether you are German American, Italian America, Polish American or not, it’s important to mark the culture of a people who helped shape our nation.

DLA Aviation is honored to highlight European Americans who work daily to provide logistics support to America’s warfighters and other federal customers.

My name is: Ferdinand “Fred” Tramontin

I am:  a general engineer supervisor in DLA Aviation’s Engineering Directorate’s Hazardous Information Programs Division in Richmond, Virginia.

How long have you worked for DLA? I have been working for DLA for 42 years and 10 months.

What does the 2021 European American Heritage Month mean to you? As the child of parents who immigrated from a small town in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region of Italy (in proximity to Aviano Air Force Base), this month helps me to reflect more intently on my European heritage, and at the same time deeply appreciate the many opportunities which this nation provided to my parents and grandparents to grow and achieve their goals and dreams when they emigrated from Europe.

Tell us something unique about your heritage, country of origin or family traditions. At family gatherings whether in Brooklyn or Richmond, I was exposed to several European languages/dialects as well as customs - from Friulano, to Italian, to German, and “some” English; and the meals were regional-centric, for example: polenta (i.e., corn mush), muset (somewhat analogous to the German’s wurst) wrapped in thin layer of cooked veal, brovada (turnips soaked in vinegar and then cooked with the muset), a variety soups, salads and vegetables, always homemade or grown, a bottle or two of fine regional wines, and endless types of delicious pastries topped off with a cordial and a “demitasse” of expresso. Bon Appetito!! A rite of passage was when one reached a certain age, he/she was afforded the honor of sitting at the dinner table with the adults rather than with siblings or cousins.

What misconception about your heritage or country of origin would you like to correct? Not all Italian surnames (i.e., last names) end in the vowels (a, e, i, or o). In the northeastern part of Italy, Germanic, and Slavic influences, as well as those from the Austro-Hungary Empire have resulted in names ending in the consonant (n) such as mine. Additionally, meal types vary greatly between the Northern and Southern regions of Italy especially when it comes to the use of sauces. 

In regards to this year’s EAHM observance theme, “Reflections of Culture, Pride, Diversity and the American Dream,” what do you consider the most important cultural value for you and for those close to you? A great respect for elders, whether of the family or not.  As emigrants, these people experienced much in their lifetimes, and listening to their experiences, be they joyful or sorrowful, helped me to gain a perspective on the emigrant experience in this nation irrespective of the country of origin.

Tell us a little-known fact that most people do not know about you. I only knew and spoke Italian or the regional dialect (Friulano) when I started school even though I was born in the United States; and during my middle school years, I played the accordion.

How important is it to you that Defense Logistics Agency Aviation recognize this month? DLA Aviation’s recognition of this month reflects the fact that this heritage is just one of the many heritages at DLA Aviation which contribute to its mission in support of our warfighters and the nation.

What do you want the DLA Aviation workforce to take away from celebrating this observance month? An appreciation and understanding that different cultures and heritages contribute to both our uniqueness and commonality in reaching our full potential as persons and as a nation.