JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Brooke Army Medical Center held a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Oct. 11 to honor the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States military.
BAMC Commanding General Brig. Gen. Wendy Harter emphasized this year's theme: "Honoring Hispanic Americans: Essential to the Blueprint of Our Nation."
"This theme invites us to reflect on Hispanic Americans' service and contributions to the history of our nation," Harter said.
The general spoke about 100-year-old Joe Castellanos, a combat medic who honored his nation and profession in what is considered the bloodiest battle in the Pacific during WWII in Okinawa where thousands of Americans and Japanese lost their lives.
"We've had many outstanding Hispanic Americans serving our military throughout history," Harter said, "including our guest speaker Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado."
Delgado is the command sergeant major for U.S. Army North and the senior enlisted leader for Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis.
"Through hard work, devotion and loyalty to community and country, Hispanic Americans have pursued the American dream and have made great contributions to the strength, protection and diversity of our nation," Delgado said.
The command sergeant major added that his family pursued the American dream. His parents, both from Puerto Rico, moved to New York where they met.
"Growing up on Delancey Street on the Lower East Side wasn't always easy," Delgado said. "But, the care for each other, work ethic and intuition that was instilled in me from an early age by my family and the roots of our culture shaped my leadership style and ultimately helped me succeed to where I am today."
Delgado highlighted heroes such as Cpl. Joseph DeCastro, the first Hispanic American Soldier presented the Medal of Honor, and Pvt. David Barkley, the first Hispanic American to receive the Medal of Honor posthumously, as well as several others including Master Sgt. Leroy Petry, a Soldier with the 75th Ranger Regiment who received the Medal of Honor for his service during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
"Hispanic Americans have bravely fought for our nation from the very beginning of American history," Delgado said. "I am proud of our heritage and contributions to our service. Our Army is stronger because of this diversity. Together, we must continue to strive for equality and treat everyone with dignity and respect, no matter where they come from, what they look like or how they practice their faith."
The ceremony also included Staff Sgt. Jamie Cruz, a Soldier in the BAMC Warrior Transition Battalion, who performed Spanish music on guitar.
BAMC Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Oates closed the ceremony and thanked everyone for their contributions and participation.