FORT LEE, Virginia (Oct. 3, 2018) -- A Mission and Installation Contracting Command Soldier was presented the National LATINA Style Distinguished Service Award for 2018 during the Distinguished Military Services Awards recognition dinner Sept. 6 at Arlington, Virginia.

Sgt. 1st Class Carole Alonzo-Mercado is a contracting team noncommissioned officer in charge with the MICC-Fort Lee, Virginia, contracting office assigned as a training developer for the Army Training and Doctrine Command with the Combined Arms Support.

She is the only Army active-duty recipient. A civilian employee from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and a cadet from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point also were among the honorees.

Each year, LATINA Style magazine honors the accomplishments of women serving in the armed forces. Its annual symposium and awards dinner coincide with National Hispanic Heritage Month activities.

The Style Award "recognizes selfless service, leadership, personal accomplishment and commitment to building a strong community," according to the organization. Eligible recipients include all Latina military and civilian personnel "who through their service have enhanced the role of Latinas in their organizations."

Born in La Ceiba, Honduras, and raised in an underprivileged suburb of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Alonzo-Mercado said service in the U.S. military forces presented the greatest potential for personal achievement.

"I overcame numerous challenges through dedication, motivation, determination and hard work while embracing the values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage and esprit de corps exemplified by the American Soldier," she said. "Every day, I demonstrate that anything can be achieved by young Latin Americans through initiative, dedication, personal fortitude and professional growth.

"I feel humbled but proud that my contributions and work effort are being recognized," Alonzo-Mercado said of the recognition.

For this award, the Army Equal Opportunity Office accepts nominations from the total force, including all service components and military academies. Entries are then screened for the strongest candidates and forwarded to the award committee.

Col. Andrew Danwin, Alonzo-Mercado's supervisor at CASCOM, submitted her recommendation and said she is the epitome of a loyal and selfless Soldier.

"Her work and efforts over a 24-year career have influenced more than 5,000 Soldiers to perform above and beyond the call of duty. Her care and willingness to accomplish all missions is best exemplified by her leadership -- maintaining not only unit readiness but also more than 100 contracts to ensure steady movement during operations. Her ability to interact with Soldiers and leaders at all levels proved vital to achieving extraordinary results," Danwin stated in her nomination.

"Alonzo-Mercado fully supports the integration of minorities and women within the armed forces and civilian workforce," it continued. "She is well-respected by subordinates, peers and superiors alike and is frequently sought out to provide counsel regarding equal opportunity matters. In her off-duty time, Alonzo-Mercado volunteers to support underprivileged children of immigrants during the holiday season. She also works with the Special Olympics program and Feed the Hungry Voucher Program assisting in the delivery of warm meals to senior citizens living in the local community. She planned, organized and led various fundraising events to raise money for several community services."

Being a Latin American leader is important to Alonzo-Mercado and this achievement, she said, only strengthens her desire to serve as a mentor to others of her heritage in the Army community.

"I want to be a role model for those who wish to excel in their profession and distinguish themselves as leaders, mentors, and advocates of diversity and the full integration of Latin American in the armed forces," she said. "I want to encourage leaders at all levels to ensure that they are submitting their service members for these awards. It enhances the moral and overall productivity of the mission."

About the MICC:
Headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. The command is made up of two contracting support brigades, two field directorates, 30 contracting offices and nine battalions. MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, preparing more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.