Soldiers keep the Hispanic bond strong
October 16, 2009
FORT KNOX, Ky. -The adjective Hispanic is defined in the Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary as "relating to the people, speech, or culture of Spain, Spain and Portugal, or Latin America."
Chief Warrant Officer Francisco J. Botero, Staff Sgt. Oscar Nieves Martir and Pvt. 1st Class Nestor Reyes, three Soldiers with the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) insist that being Hispanic is more than a dictionary definition and instills a sense of camaraderie that extends beyond being co-workers in the U.S. Army.
"When you are out of your country and you find somebody Hispanic, it is like you are instant friends," said Nieves Martir, a native of Puerto Rico and information assurance noncommissioned officer for the 3d ESC "It is something that you just do naturally."
Even though Nieves Martir grew up in Puerto Rico, he was born a U.S. citizen in New York. He believes knowing English helped him overcome a common problem shared by most Puerto Ricans when joining the Army of having to learn a completely new language.
"A lot of people have problems passing their ASVABs because of English," Nieves Martir said.
One Soldier in the 3d ESC who had to overcome this barrier during his Army career is Reyes. As a former police officer of five years, Reyes joined the Army saying he always wanted to wear the uniform. He described basic training as a nightmare because of the language barrier but said he started to understand English better during AIT.
"I was recycled once because I failed a test because I didn't understand what they were saying," said Reyes.
Since arriving at the unit, Nieves has continued to help Reyes with his English in addition to his professional development.
"He helped me a lot," said Reyes. "He helped me do correspondence courses, pronouncing verbs, what I had to do (and) all I needed to know."
Another Soldier in the 3d ESC who had trouble with English is Botero, an ammunition technician. Although Botero grew up in Queens, New York, he grew up in a Spanish neighborhood with his Colombian Family, hearing very little English spoken in his surroundings.
"I'm probably the only person that has failed first grade (because of it)," Botero joked.
Despite his slow beginnings with the English language Botero joined the Army in 1986 at the age of 18 with a general technical score of 123. He started his career in the Army as a nuclear weapons maintenance technician and re-classed to explosive ordnance disposal four years later, a large leap from his early struggles in Queens. He arrived at Fort Knox two weeks before deploying with the 3d ESC. During his short time with the 3d ESC he agrees that Hispanics share a bond within the unit.
"It is like a brotherhood," Botero said. "A Spanish person sees another Spanish person and it is like you have known them forever."
Although Nieves Martir, Reyes and Botero come from different backgrounds, all of them recalled a large sense of Family as they grew up. They all remembered one of their favorite activities being cookouts with friends and Family.
"I love any fiesta," Botero said. "I think Spanish people have fiestas for no reason."
"We relax and do cookouts a lot," Reyes said.
"Cookouts are the best," Nieves Martir said. "You get together with Family and friends and have some steaks (and) smoke some ribs. I guess it is just that Hispanics have a big sense of Family."
Whether they are Puerto Rican, Mexican, Colombian or come from any other origin that dubs themselves Hispanic, these 3d ESC Soldiers agree that when you are Hispanic you are Family.
Story by Spc. Amanda Tucker, 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) public affairs.
For queries, contact 3d Sustainment Command Public Affairs at: (502) 624-8601.
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