3rd Infantry Division celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

By Staff Sgt. Todd PouliotSeptember 16, 2021

1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: ) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexis “Pancho” Perez-Cruz, the 3rd Infantry Division operations officer, is an Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, native who was raised in El Paso, Texas. Perez entered the Army as a medic in 1994 and was later awarded a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. Perez graduated with a Bachelor's degree in speech communications and was commissioned as an armor officer in the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor, 3rd Brigade, 3rd ID. Perez deployed to Kuwait in 2002 then deployed to Iraq in 2003. After graduating the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course in 2004, Perez deployed with Task Force 2-69 Security Forces Training Team as the executive officer in Diyala Province, Iraq, where he trained and conducted operations with an Iraqi Army battalion. Perez was then selected to attend Spanish Language Command and General Staff College at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Fort Benning, Georgia. In May of 2018, Perez came back to Fort Stewart to serve as the commander of 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regimen, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID.  He then moved to the 3rd ID headquarters to serve as the deputy chief of staff before taking over his current position. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Elsi Delgado)
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexis “Pancho” Perez-Cruz, the 3rd Infantry Division operations officer, is an Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, native who was raised in El Paso, Texas. Perez entered the Army as a medic in 1994 and was later awarded a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. Perez graduated with a Bachelor's degree in speech communications and was commissioned as an armor officer in the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor, 3rd Brigade, 3rd ID. Perez deployed to Kuwait in 2002 then deployed to Iraq in 2003. After graduating the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course in 2004, Perez deployed with Task Force 2-69 Security Forces Training Team as the executive officer in Diyala Province, Iraq, where he trained and conducted operations with an Iraqi Army battalion. Perez was then selected to attend Spanish Language Command and General Staff College at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Fort Benning, Georgia. In May of 2018, Perez came back to Fort Stewart to serve as the commander of 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regimen, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID. He then moved to the 3rd ID headquarters to serve as the deputy chief of staff before taking over his current position. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Elsi Delgado) (Photo Credit: Pvt. Elsi Delgado) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Spc. Michael Zelaya, a motor transport operator from Atlanta, Georgia, assigned to the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was raised by parents born in Mexico and Honduras. Zelaya and his family celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by cooking their favorite tortas and spending quality time together.  “I serve for all Hispanics across the world to show that we can stand up for what we believe in.”
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Michael Zelaya, a motor transport operator from Atlanta, Georgia, assigned to the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was raised by parents born in Mexico and Honduras. Zelaya and his family celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by cooking their favorite tortas and spending quality time together. “I serve for all Hispanics across the world to show that we can stand up for what we believe in.” (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Joel Salgado) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

Spc. Miguel Rios, an M1 armor crew member assigned to 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Piedras Negras, Mexico, native who joined the military after the passing of his parents. “I celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by engaging in dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead). We face paint, have parades and visit our loved ones' grave sites.” (U.S. Army photo by William Griffen)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Miguel Rios, an M1 armor crew member assigned to 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Piedras Negras, Mexico, native who joined the military after the passing of his parents. “I celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by engaging in dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead). We face paint, have parades and visit our loved ones' grave sites.” (U.S. Army photo by William Griffen) (Photo Credit: Spc. William Griffen) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Spc. Jacqueline Robles, a signal system support specialist assigned to 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, is a Garland, Texas, native whose family is from Mexico. She previously served in South Korea. Her long term-goal is to become a veterinarian.  “I joined the Army to support my family, and along the way the Army helped with my self development.”
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Jacqueline Robles, a signal system support specialist assigned to 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, is a Garland, Texas, native whose family is from Mexico. She previously served in South Korea. Her long term-goal is to become a veterinarian. “I joined the Army to support my family, and along the way the Army helped with my self development.” (Photo Credit: Spc. William Griffen) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

U.S. Army Spc. Adan Lopez, a horizon construction engineer assigned to 135th Quartermaster Company, 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is an Earlimart, California, who enlisted in the Army November 2017. Lopez attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and has served on Fort Stewart since 2018. He has been married 10 years and has 3 children.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Adan Lopez, a horizon construction engineer assigned to 135th Quartermaster Company, 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is an Earlimart, California, who enlisted in the Army November 2017. Lopez attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and has served on Fort Stewart since 2018. He has been married 10 years and has 3 children. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Joel Salgado) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Spc. Adan Lopez, a horizon construction engineer assigned to 135th Quartermaster Company, 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is an Earlimart, California, who enlisted in the Army November 2017. Lopez attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and has served on Fort Stewart since 2018. He has been married 10 years and has 3 children.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Adan Lopez, a horizon construction engineer assigned to 135th Quartermaster Company, 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is an Earlimart, California, who enlisted in the Army November 2017. Lopez attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and has served on Fort Stewart since 2018. He has been married 10 years and has 3 children. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Joel Salgado) VIEW ORIGINAL

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).

U.S. Army Cpl. Dennis J. Arroyo, a petroleum supply specialist assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, native who enlisted in the Army in July 2017. Arroyo enlisted to be a good role model and provide for his two children, Jasiel and Kylian, and also to continue his family’s tradition of service.  His family served in World War 1, World War 2, after Vietnam, during the Gulf War, and after 9/11. “I joined the military to continue a tradition that has lasted five generations.”
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Cpl. Dennis J. Arroyo, a petroleum supply specialist assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, native who enlisted in the Army in July 2017. Arroyo enlisted to be a good role model and provide for his two children, Jasiel and Kylian, and also to continue his family’s tradition of service. His family served in World War 1, World War 2, after Vietnam, during the Gulf War, and after 9/11. “I joined the military to continue a tradition that has lasted five generations.” (Photo Credit: Sgt. Andrew McNeil) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mathew D. Macias, a rotary wing aviator assigned to 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Fort Campbell, Kentucky, native who was born to a Mexican and Tigua family and raised in Bakersfield, California. Macias graduated from Highland High School and enlisted in the Army one month afterward. He was previously stationed at Fort Drum, New York, and deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where he met his wife Rachel Macias. Marcias is a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot for 3rd CAB and said that he will continue being a pilot because it is the most fulfilling and exciting career choice he made in the Army. “Between classes during my sophomore year at Highland High, I heard a low rumble as a formation of Black Hawks passed overhead. Time stood still in that moment and I immediately realized what I had been born to do.”
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mathew D. Macias, a rotary wing aviator assigned to 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Fort Campbell, Kentucky, native who was born to a Mexican and Tigua family and raised in Bakersfield, California. Macias graduated from Highland High School and enlisted in the Army one month afterward. He was previously stationed at Fort Drum, New York, and deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where he met his wife Rachel Macias. Marcias is a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot for 3rd CAB and said that he will continue being a pilot because it is the most fulfilling and exciting career choice he made in the Army. “Between classes during my sophomore year at Highland High, I heard a low rumble as a formation of Black Hawks passed overhead. Time stood still in that moment and I immediately realized what I had been born to do.” (Photo Credit: Sgt. Andrew McNeil) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Sgt. Stacy Ortiz Kuilan, an aviation operations noncommissioned officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Dorado, Puerto Rico, native who joined the Army to continue her education. Ortiz Kuilan served in 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st CAB, 1st Infantry Division, on Fort Riley, Kansas, for two years and deployed with that unit to Powidz, Poland. She knew from a young age that she wanted to join the Army, and she looked up to her uncle who served. After graduating high school, she began to doubt herself.  “I stopped underestimating myself and took the first step in joining. I use this mindset to get me through certain tasks given to me and encourage other service members to do the same.”
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Sgt. Stacy Ortiz Kuilan, an aviation operations noncommissioned officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Dorado, Puerto Rico, native who joined the Army to continue her education. Ortiz Kuilan served in 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st CAB, 1st Infantry Division, on Fort Riley, Kansas, for two years and deployed with that unit to Powidz, Poland. She knew from a young age that she wanted to join the Army, and she looked up to her uncle who served. After graduating high school, she began to doubt herself. “I stopped underestimating myself and took the first step in joining. I use this mindset to get me through certain tasks given to me and encourage other service members to do the same.” (Photo Credit: Sgt. Andrew McNeil) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

U.S. Army Spc. Marcos Nunez, a field artillery firefinder radar operator assigned to 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, is a San Diego, California, native whose maternal family is Mexican and paternal family is Cuban. Nunez is married to Precious Nunez. Before joining the Army in 2019, Nunez graduated from Patrick Henry High School. Nunez joined the Army to travel and experience different cultures. “This country gave my parents a new life, so now I’m serving it in return.”
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Marcos Nunez, a field artillery firefinder radar operator assigned to 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, is a San Diego, California, native whose maternal family is Mexican and paternal family is Cuban. Nunez is married to Precious Nunez. Before joining the Army in 2019, Nunez graduated from Patrick Henry High School. Nunez joined the Army to travel and experience different cultures. “This country gave my parents a new life, so now I’m serving it in return.” (Photo Credit: Spc. William Griffen) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Spc. Marcos Nunez, a field artillery firefinder radar operator assigned to 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, is a San Diego, California, native whose maternal family is Mexican and paternal family is Cuban. Nunez is married to Precious Nunez. Before joining the Army in 2019, Nunez graduated from Patrick Henry High School. Nunez joined the Army to travel and experience different cultures. “This country gave my parents a new life, so now I’m serving it in return.”
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Marcos Nunez, a field artillery firefinder radar operator assigned to 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, is a San Diego, California, native whose maternal family is Mexican and paternal family is Cuban. Nunez is married to Precious Nunez. Before joining the Army in 2019, Nunez graduated from Patrick Henry High School. Nunez joined the Army to travel and experience different cultures. “This country gave my parents a new life, so now I’m serving it in return.” (Photo Credit: Spc. William Griffen) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

U.S. Army Spc. Luis Antonio Rodriguez Jr., a signal system support specialist assigned to 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, is a Worcester, Massachusetts, native who was raised in Puerto Rico. Before joining the Army in 2019, he studied agriculture and environmental science at the University of Puerto Rico for a year.  He has a sister who served the Army previously and a brother-in-law who is still serving at Fort Hood. “I joined the Army for self development and more independence. You have every right to live a beautiful life.”
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Luis Antonio Rodriguez Jr., a signal system support specialist assigned to 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, is a Worcester, Massachusetts, native who was raised in Puerto Rico. Before joining the Army in 2019, he studied agriculture and environmental science at the University of Puerto Rico for a year. He has a sister who served the Army previously and a brother-in-law who is still serving at Fort Hood. “I joined the Army for self development and more independence. You have every right to live a beautiful life.” (Photo Credit: Spc. William Griffen) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Pfc. Israel Vital, an indirect fire infantryman assigned to 6th Squadron, 8th Calvary Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Fresno, California, native who said he always knew he would serve in the military. Vital chose to serve because he wanted to make a difference in his community, protect others, and stop global violence.  “My parents are originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, and we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by listening to cultural music, eating, and enjoying family gathering.”
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Pfc. Israel Vital, an indirect fire infantryman assigned to 6th Squadron, 8th Calvary Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is a Fresno, California, native who said he always knew he would serve in the military. Vital chose to serve because he wanted to make a difference in his community, protect others, and stop global violence. “My parents are originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, and we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by listening to cultural music, eating, and enjoying family gathering.” (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.