By Spc. Thomas Duval, 1-25th SBCTOctober 15, 2010
In a society where heroes are compared to comic book legends and big screen performers, it's often hard to imagine a hero without a cape or superhuman strength. But throughout the history of the U.S. military, Hispanic Americans have helped redefine how people perceive heroes.
Between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 these men and women are honored and celebrated during the nation's Hispanic Heritage month.
Helping carry the torch for the Latin community, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Luis Martinez, the targeting officer for the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright is among the many Hispanic Americans who are celebrated for their contributions on the front lines of today's military.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Martinez made the journey to Kissimmee Fla., when he was 5.
At a point in his life where most children his age focus on cartoons and water guns, Martinez quickly learned he had an obstacle to overcome that not many children born in the U.S. face.
"At the age of five I knew zero English," Martinez said. "I was under the impression everyone talked Spanish and the world was just Spanish speaking."
It wasn't until a trip to a local bank that Martinez realized how important overcoming the obstacle of not speaking English really was.
"I was talking to this little kid in Spanish and he gave me a crazy look and I started crying," Martinez remembered. "My mom had to explain to me that in the U.S. people primarily speak English."
Martinez said he adjusted to life in Florida by working hard and studying English.
By the time he reached second grade he could speak it fluently. He attributed his work ethic to his Hispanic upbringing.
"Growing up I watched my parents work two to three jobs," he said. "At the age of 7 I would go and work with my dad, cleaning doctors' offices," he said. "My parent's work ethic was something they instilled in my sister and me from a young age."
It paid off.
After entering the Army in 1997, the San Juan native's hard work and never-quit attitude led to a fast-track military career. After just two years in the Army as a fire direction specialist he earned his place as a noncommissioned officer and quickly dominated every Army school he attended, including the Army's prestigious Audie Murphy club - something Martinez says was important to his a overall objective to take care of young Soldiers.
"For me, being a member of the prestigious Audie Murphy Club was a great honor, as I was part of a group of NCOs known for their professionalism and knowledge
when dealing with their peers, superiors, and subordinates alike," Martinez said. "An Audie Murphy member knows how to take care of Soldiers."
Martinez continued to take care of Soldiers even as he entered the warrant officer corps and throughout his daily routine he still tries to find ways to make a lasting impression on those around him.
"CW2 Martinez's leadership is a prime example of how a leader should be. He is the consummate professional, extremely knowledgeable in his job and the Army as a whole," said Capt. Douglas Brazier, information operations officer for the 1-25th SBCT. "His dedication to the unit carries over in everything he does and he strives to share his knowledge and experience with everybody he meets and does it in a way that develops that Soldier as professionally as possible. Soldiers of all ranks can benefit from observing Chief Martinez's dedication and motivation."
Martinez says his success was a result of hard work and dedication. He said none of it would be possible without the love and understanding of his family - something he attributes to the closeness and family interactions shared among the Hispanic community.
"Throughout the Hispanic community everyone is real close knit and family oriented," he said. "My family and my faith drive me every day to get up and do my best."