Hispanic Heritage Spotlight: SSG Oscar Morales
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Oscar Morales, an infantryman assigned to the 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment, poses for a photo on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Oct. 14, 2016. Morales is being featured as a Soldier spotlight for Hispanic Heritage Mon... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Hispanic Heritage Spotlight: SSG Oscar Morales
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Oscar Morales, an infantryman assigned to the 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment, poses for a photo on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Oct. 14, 2016. Morales is being featured as a Soldier spotlight for Hispanic Heritage Mon... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo- Since joining the Army in 2009, Staff Sgt. Oscar Morales has earned the title of Soldier, noncommissioned officer, leader, and most recently, best warrior.

Each of these titles carry a different set of responsibilities and each one requires a different focus for success. One title may require an immense amount of study, while another requires an inherent responsibility to take care of Soldiers.

For Morales, these titles are more than just a responsibility to the Soldiers he leads, but also serve as positive examples for the community and culture he proudly represents.

Morales, an infantryman deployed to Kosovo with Multinational Battle Group-East, is one of thousands of Hispanic Americans who wear the uniform and currently serve across more than 120 countries worldwide and who are recognized annually for their contributions to the Army community, from Sept.15- Oct.15.

Morales, a citizen Soldier with the Arizona National Guard, said his Hispanic upbringing provided the foundation he needed to be successful in the military and earn his various titles.

"My deep passion for my culture is what I came equipped with when I decided to become a Soldier," said Morales. "I've been able to use that passion in the military. That passion is driven by discipline, respect and the willingness to sacrifice for others and has enabled me to be humble and think of others and not just myself."

Being humble is something Morales learned while growing up in El Paso, Texas.

"My inability to communicate due to not speaking English was a challenge both in school and in life," Morales recalls. "I remember trying to communicate with other students about what the teacher was going over during class but it did not work because we did not speak the same language... Some of the teachers would get impatient because they would have to explain certain schoolwork over to me."

This, combined with not being able to understand the language, made interacting with other students frustrating at a young age and led to fights on the playground and in school hallways.

Morales understood if he was going to be successful and put an end to the fighting, he had to learn the language.

"I knew if I wanted to be successful I would have to learn English," he added.

After a year of studying, Morales began to understand, write and even speak the language that was foreign to him.

"I felt a great feeling of accomplishment," said Morales. "Having learned some of the basic communication skills in English, it made me want to learn more. My perspective on the world was forever changed."

With a new perspective on life, he began to navigate through life's hurdles. The youngest of nine, he said he often uses the strength of his mother and the example she set throughout various challenges for motivation.

"I often think about the challenges she faced as a single parent and how she never quit," said Morales. "It was not easy for my mother to provide. Her dedication, hard work ethic and never quit mentality is what I use as fuel to succeed."

His mom would often wake up before work to do chores, go to work and return home to take care of her family and prepare for the next day, said Morales.

"My mother's days consisted of early wake ups and late nights," he added. "She did all of that to ensure our family had a place to live, food to eat and clothes to wear."

The traits his mother instilled in him such as hard work, dedication and never quit mentality are traits Morales attributes to the Hispanic community.

"A majority of Hispanic women learn these traits at a very early age," said Morales. "They grow up with the understanding that life is not easy, you must work for everything and never give up."

The never give up mindset of the Hispanic community is a trait Morales proudly wears when he dons his uniform, and it's one that has caught the attention of the Soldiers he leads, as well as his supervisors.

"He is proud of Hispanic heritage and he has had to work hard for all that he has accomplished and he continues to strive for excellence in all he does," said Master Sgt. Eric Muncy, Morales' supervisor. "Morales is an excellent Soldier and leader. He is an excellent example to junior Soldiers, as well as leaders, always taking time to assist others. He is always thoughtful and has a contagious smile and attitude that puts others at ease."

His smile isn't his only contagious trait. The success that Morales has seen since joining the Army has spread to his family who see the impact he has had on the Hispanic community.

"Oscar has shown other young Hispanic Americans that if you put your mind and strength into it you could do anything you want," said Yolanda Loya, Oscar's sister. "His influence is very positive because it shows Hispanics have the strength and mentality to do things to make our country a better place. His success makes us all feel really proud of him."

As the infantryman prepares to return home to his proud family later this year, he said he looks forward to catching up on all the celebrations he missed out on while deployed.

"I cannot wait for the celebration of holidays, music, art, dance styles, and food," added Morales. "That's one of the things I plan to fully embrace about my heritage when I get home."

After the celebration ends, Morales, a father of two, said he plans to continue his military service until he is able to retire and hopes he can add to and help solidify Hispanic Americans' meaningful legacy in the Army's framework for future generations.

His dedication to the Army, his Soldiers and his culture are just another example of how Hispanic Americans embrace, enrich and enable America.