By Maj. Edward R. McCrayOctober 15, 2008
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Army News Service, Oct. 15, 2008) -- "Hola! Bienvenidos a la Casa Blanca," President George W. Bush opened his White House Hispanic Heritage Month address Oct. 9 in which he recognized a deployed citizen-warrior.
Lt. Col. Enrique M. Guerra, commander of the 744th Military Police Battalion at Camp Cropper, Iraq, was invited to fly back from theater especially to attend the ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.
"It was an honor to meet the president," Guerra said. "I am humbled to be selected to be here."
"As you may be aware, I was born in Cuba. I came to this country with my parents and my sister when I was seven months old," Guerra said after the ceremony, adding that he feels a strong sense of American patriotism and commitment to country.
"Enrique has always had a sense of patriotism," said Karen Guerra, Lt. Col. Guerra's wife. "It's in his blood. As a child, he was always playing Army. He always wanted to be a Soldier. He loves doing what he does."
Mrs. Guerra stood proudly by her husband as the President shook his hand, thanked him for his service and presented him with a presidential coin.
Lt. Col. Guerra not only commands the 744th MP Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Bethlehem, Pa., he is also currently the theater internment facility commander of Remembrance II at Camp Cropper, Iraq.
Maj. Gen. Adolph McQueen Jr., commander of the 200th Military Police Command at Fort Meade, Md., and former Joint Task Force Detainee Operations Group commander at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, walked the grounds of Camp Cropper with Guerra in July. Camp Cropper is a large internment facility in southern Iraq and McQueen noted that Guerra is the right man for the job.
Guerra is a Political Science graduate of Rutgers University. He also earned a Master of Science degree in Management from Thomas Edison State College, in New Jersey. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College and the Multifunction Logisticians Course.
Guerra attributes much of his military success and the confidence that his leaders have expressed in him to the fact that he is a good listener.
"I love being around Soldiers. I talk with them. I listen". "Many of my young Soldiers are volunteering for a second or third tour," said Guerra. "Our morale is high."
In his 2007 departure ceremony speech, Guerra noted that a large number of Soldiers were volunteering to deploy with the 744th. He said he surveyed his young Soldiers and asked why they were volunteering. "The general theme of the response I received was that unit has a good reputation among the troops and the Soldiers feel that they have leaders that they trust," Guerra said, noting that he went on to fill his ranks with subject-matter experts.
In the President's Hispanic Heritage address on the South Lawn of the White House, he recognized Guerra with these remarks: "I ' m especially proud to be the commander-in-chief of a military in which there's 225,000 Hispanic men and women. One of these Hispanos is an Army lieutenant colonel named Enrique Guerra. Listen to his story."
President Bush briefly recounted the narrative of Lt. Col. Guerra's arrival to America and his current military service.
The president concluded his acknowledgments by saying "And today I ' m proud to honor his service, and the service of all Hispanic Americans, who ensure that freedom is available to all. Enrique, bienvenidos. Thank you for coming."