The annual observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is a time to recognize the achievements and contributions Hispanic Americans have made to our Army.
Hispanic Americans are vital to our Army as Soldiers and civilians. Since the beginning of our history, they have served in the Army with honor, dedication and distinction. Today, more than 139,000 Hispanic Americans serve in the active and reserve component, comprising 16% of America’s Army as we continue to leverage the strength of our diverse, volunteer force.
Within the 3rd ID today, Hispanic Americans serve in key staff positions at division, brigade and battalion levels. They command and lead subordinate units, and comprise hard-working teams that enable the Marne Division’s success in operations at home and abroad.
From the American Revolution to today, Hispanic Americans have fought bravely for our nation. During this month, we celebrate the history, culture and contributions of Americans with ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The reason this commemoration begins and ends in the middle of the month is because it encompasses Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua (Sept. 15); Mexico (Sept. 16); and Chile (Sept. 18).
Hispanics in the Americas were critical allies during the American Revolutionary War. Spain, with volunteers from Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico, cleared the lower Mississippi River, as well as Florida, of British forces, thus securing the new nation’s western and southern flanks.
Union Cpl. Joseph DeCastro became the first Hispanic American Soldier to be presented the Medal of Honor after he attacked a Confederate flag bearer, seized the opposing flag, and presented it to Union Gen. Alexander S. Webb. Since then, more than 45 Hispanic American Soldiers have earned our country’s highest military decoration for bravery.
Several Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients served within our own division including Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams.
German troops blocked Adams' company Oct. 28, 1944, in the Mortagne Forest near Saint-Dié, France. Adams charged forward, advancing from tree to tree while firing a Browning automatic rifle. He moved to within 10 yards of an enemy machine gun, killed the gunner with a hand grenade and then immediately began engaging another enemy soldier. Adams continued to move forward as the enemy concentrated fire on him.
By the end of his attack, he had killed nine Germans, captured two, eliminated three machine guns, cleared the woods and reopened the severed supply lines.
The Army recognizes not only the significance of individual contributions, but also the value of diversity and an inclusive environment during National Hispanic Heritage Month. 3rd ID embraces diversity, and our Dogface Soldiers understand that we are stronger when everyone has an opportunity to contribute and share their talents in service of their country.
While military service is a unifier of all cultures through shared values, work ethic and indelible bonds through challenging environments, understanding each other’s cultures and backgrounds also enables us to bond in unity and work as a cohesive team.
Hispanic American Soldiers and Army civilians continue a legacy of professionalism, selfless service and courage that will inspire generations to come.