Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, Command Sergeant Major the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, was recognized by Technica Magazine, the national Hispanic Engineering and Science publication, with its Role Model of the Year Award for 2009. He received the award at the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards conference (HENAAC) in Long Beach, Calif., this month.

Technica Magazine's editor, Carmela C. Mellado, said that Marin's success in making sure that engineers and scientists in Army laboratories understand the requirements of Soldiers on the battlefield was the primary reason for the award.

Marin, a native of Honduras who holds a degree in Aeronautical Science, spoke of his life and his work to hundreds of college-aged Latino science and engineering students at the HENAAC student leadership awards dinner.

He explained, "When I go into those laboratories and look at those scientists and engineers working hard to solve our problems it really makes me feel good. Our guys on the battlefield don't understand the amount of effort that goes into the equipment and innovations; and they shouldn't have to, but we've got individuals from all sorts of backgrounds and all kinds of degrees working hard 24-7 to save Soldiers lives. I've got a lot of respect for all they do."

The magazine featured Marin in its October issue and specifically cited his efforts in developing the Unitized Group Ration Express, a method to provide a complete hot meal for up to 18 Soldiers in remote field locations where group feeding would not otherwise be possible. That concern was brought up to Marin during a fact finding visit to Soldiers serving on remote battlefields in the theater of operations. He also recently led a collaborative initiative to develop a safety restraint for gunners on MRAP vehicles so that they would get thrown from the vehicle in an accident.

His story of growing up as a poor Honduran immigrant and pushing himself to pursue a career focused on aviation brought the student leadership audience to its feet in a standing ovation. Marin described himself as a barefoot, shirtless child, who would chase after helicopters he saw flying overhead and wish that one day he would somehow be involved in aviation.

"I wanted one day to either fly or repair whatever it is that was flying overhead. That is how my passion started for aviation."

He also told the audience how he overcame his language barrier over the years to join the Army as an aircraft power plant mechanic.

"When I joined the Army, I told the recruiter I want anything to do with aviation," he explained. Eventually, Marin got his degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle University. Beefore coming to RDECOM, he had risen in the field of Army aviation to command sergeant major of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade.

Marin is also focused on attracting young talent into the Army's research and development workforce to keep the Army on the cutting edge of technology.

Looking out over the roomful of 300 potential Latino scientists and engineers at the awards dinner, he said, "This room - because of all of your efforts in school - is full of solutions. You are what we call a combat multiplier because what is in this room is exactly what we need to keep our nation safe."

Marin immediately followed this award recognition event with another trip back to the theater of operations for more insight from Soldiers on the battlefield.