By Vanessa Flores, WSMR Public AffairsOctober 25, 2019
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. -- Honoring Hispanic Americans: Essential to the Blueprint of our Nation was the theme for the Hispanic Heritage Month observance at White Sands Missile Range on Oct. 24.
The event's guest speaker, El Paso native Richard O. Martinez, a retired engineering federal employee for 36 years, discussed what created the blueprint to his success.
"When we see the word blueprint we think of a technical drawing," said Martinez. "A blueprint can also be a detailed plan of action."
Integral to his personal blueprint were the impacts people and places made on him throughout his life.
Martinez shared the names of several people who supported him, making it clear that life is a journey one does not take alone. From the teachers who taught him valuable lessons, to the people he met during his career, supportive people filled his blueprint.
"An individual took a chance and gave me a break as an environmental test engineer," said Martinez. "That break presented me with what would end up as a 36-year career journey as a government employee; this gave me exposure, experience, and the guidance of so many individuals."
During his federal career, Martinez worked within several government organizations at WSMR, Fort Bliss, and Washington D.C., including the Materiel Test Directorate, Operational Test Command, Army Development and Acquisition of Threat Simulators, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, and the Test & Evaluation Directorate. Currently, he teaches a class on professional development at the University of Texas at El Paso, in the Mechanical Engineering Department.
As a college student Martinez joined the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists, currently known as Latinos in Science and Engineering. Their mission is to promote, cultivate, and honor excellence in education and leadership among Latino engineers and scientists. The program was such an influence in his life; he served on the board at one point during his career. This program is where Martinez became a part of the blueprint for several young future professionals.
In addition to the guest speaker, the observance had Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery Air Missile Defense Test Detachment, share the biographies of influential Hispanic Americans.
The audience received information about the milestones of journalist Jorge Ramos Avalos' prolific career, such as his efforts to promote literacy within the Hispanic community. Also shared were highlights from Antonia Novello's history-making career as the first Hispanic Surgeon General of the United States. Included was Master Sgt. Raul Roy Benavidez' story of courageous acts during the Vietnam War, he received the Medal of Honor for his heroism.
For over 30 years, Hispanic focused celebrations take place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, which is National Hispanic Heritage Month. Sept. 15 is the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries, while Mexico celebrates its independence on Sept. 16. Other significant Hispanic related dates also fall in October.