• Carlisle, Pa., native Lt. Col. Michael Shenk, commander of the 3rd "Spearhead" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, takes time to look at the display of prominent Hispanics during the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at Camp Taji, Iraq, Oct. 6. During the ceremony, Soldiers learned about the history of Hispanics in the Army.

    Carlisle, Pa., native Lt. Col. Michael Shenk...

    Carlisle, Pa., native Lt. Col. Michael Shenk, commander of the 3rd "Spearhead" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, takes time to look at the display of prominent Hispanics during the Hispanic Heritage...

  • Camuy, Puerto Rico, native Chap. (Capt.) Leonardo Rivera, the chaplain for 615th "Cold Steel" Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, speaks during the Hispanic Heritage Month ceremony at Camp Taji, Iraq, Oct. 6. Rivera explained that his love for America and Puerto Rico are one and the same, but he'll never forget his roots.

    Camuy, Puerto Rico, native Chap. (Capt.)...

    Camuy, Puerto Rico, native Chap. (Capt.) Leonardo Rivera, the chaplain for 615th "Cold Steel" Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, speaks during the Hispanic Heritage Month ceremony at Camp Taji, Iraq, Oct. 6...

  • Buffalo, N.Y., native Sgt. Elizabeth Vega (left), a chemical operations specialist for, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and New Jersey native Sgt. Harvey Olarte (right), a chemical operations specialist, both assigned to Company A, 615th "Cold Steel" Aviation Support Battalion, dance to salsa music during a demonstration for the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at Camp Taji, Iraq, Oct. 6.

    Buffalo, N.Y., native Sgt. Elizabeth Vega...

    Buffalo, N.Y., native Sgt. Elizabeth Vega (left), a chemical operations specialist for, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and New Jersey native Sgt. Harvey Olarte (right), a chemical operations specialist, both assigned to Company A, 615th...

CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, gathered Oct. 6 to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Those in attendance enjoyed music by the 1st Cavalry Division Band, a history of Hispanics in the Army and a live exhibition of Latin dancing.

Kona, Hawaii, native Staff Sgt. Nuala Taylor, an information systems specialist for Headquarters Support Company, 615th "Cold Steel" Aviation Support Battalion, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div., said that it is good to celebrate ones heritage in the Army; a place where conformity is often the rule.

"In the Army we all work together as one ... we act as one machine, one animal, but we start to understand our individuality (with these celebrations)," said Taylor, who was also one of the dancers for the ceremony.

Also, the busy days that are part of a deployment to Iraq leave little time to celebrate anything except for sleep. With events like this, Soldiers still get to celebrate their heritage despite the operational tempo, said Taylor.

"It's wonderful that we can, in a war zone, still have time to celebrate our different ethnicities and cultures during the year so that we can encourage peoples' pride in who they are," she said.
Guest speaker for the ceremony was Chap. (Capt.) Leonardo Rivera, the chaplain for 615th ASB. He talked about how most Hispanics will always have a love for their home.

"Every Hispanic will never forget their hometown - their family. My heart is in my town, but my body is here," said Rivera, a native of Camuy, Puerto Rico.

Although he loves America and everything it has afforded him, Rivera still has a passion for his heritage, he said.

"I love the American flag and I have a passion for my original flag, too. I have one body, one heart and one feeling for (both of them)," he said.

With all the celebrating and the jovial atmosphere, Rivera quickly added that it is not only important to celebrate Hispanic culture, but to remember those Hispanic Soldiers who have given their lives in the name of freedom.

Once the dancing and music faded, the Soldiers went back to their daily grind, but not without a better understanding of the importance of Hispanics and the diverse nature of the Army.

Page last updated Wed October 10th, 2007 at 09:31