By MAJ Carlos M. CuebasSeptember 20, 2012
Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico- Soldiers and civilians assigned to the 1st Mission Support Command (1st MSC), US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, the Fort Buchanan Garrison and other members of the local military community, participated in a Hispanic Heritage commemoration event, where Brig. Fernando Fernández was the keynote speaker, at the Fort Buchanan's Community Club, Sept.20.
Fernández is the senior US Army Reserve officer in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
"I am very happy to see so many junior soldiers from our command here today, because what we celebrate today will help them in their military career, as they become the future Hispanic leaders in the US Army," Fernández stated at the beginning of his presentation.
During his speech, the commander of the 1st Mission Support Command, US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, made a comprehensive summary of the Hispanic participation history in the US Armed Forces.
"Hispanics have served in every American battlefield since the revolutionary war," added Fernández.
The leader made special emphasis in the four Puerto Rican Medal of Honor recipients: Private 1st Class Fernando L. Garcia (Korea 1952), Private 1st Class Carlos James Lozada (Vietnam 1967), Spec. 4 Hector Santiago-Colon (Vietnam 1968) and Capt. Euripides Rubio (Vietnam 1966).
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website, the four Puerto Ricans earned the Medal of Honor through great sacrifice.
For example, Private 1st Class Fernando L. Garcia's great personal valor and cool decision in the face of almost certain death in Korea sustained and enhanced the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
In Vietnam, Private 1st Class Carlos James Lozada remained in an exposed position and continued to pour deadly fire upon the enemy, despite the urgent pleas of his comrades to withdraw.
Also in Vietnam, Spec. 4 Hector Santiago-Colon retrieved a hand grenade lobbed into his foxhole by the enemy, tucked it in to his stomach and, turning away from his comrades, absorbed the full impact of the blast.
Capt. Euripides Rubio's singularly heroic acts in Vietnam turned the tide of battle, and his extraordinary leadership and valor were a magnificent inspiration to his men.
"For us Puerto Ricans, who have a long and distinguished tradition of service in the US Armed Forces, it is important that we know about the deeds of these four individuals, who performed the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives for our nation and their fellow soldiers in combat. These are the real heroes of our island," insisted Fernández.
Fernandez' presentation had a significant effect in the audience.
"I learned a lot about the service of Hispanics service members that I have never heard of before. It makes me feel very proud," said Spec. Michael A. Vazquez, a Combat Medic with two years of service, assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment 1st MSC.
"I feel very proud of being Hispanic and being in the US Army representing the Hispanic people," added Staff Sgt Mildred Santiago, Training Noncommissioned officer assigned to the 166th Regional Support Group, US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico.
As the largest federal US Army command in the Caribbean region, the US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico joins the nation celebrating the National Hispanic Heritage Month from 15 September to 15 October, every year. The celebration seeks to highlight diversity and the many contributions Hispanics have made to enrich the United States and the United States Army.