KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. During these 30 days we take time to acknowledge the diversity of our Navy.
Hispanic Sailors such as Adm. David Glasgow Farragut, who became the first Hispanic American officer to reach the rank of admiral, and Retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa, who became the Navy's highest ranking enlisted Sailor, show the strength of our Navy.
"The opportunities afforded by the United States Navy to the diverse people of our country are not duplicated anywhere else on the planet," according to Rear Adm. Albert Garcia, Deputy Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command. "With our rich heritage, Sailors are uniquely prepared to lead change and innovation in all that we do. This will be the key to our success."
Today Sailors are deployed throughout the world including Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. As of Sept. 23 and according to the Navy Office of Information, there are more than 63,000 Hispanic active duty Sailors, 9,100 Hispanic Navy civilians, and 6,100 Hispanic reserve Sailors currently serving the nation.
Sailors such as Petty Officer 2nd Class Irene Quezada from Hesperia, Calif., assigned to the 30th Naval Construction Regiment and deployed to southern Afghanistan, are the future of our Navy and nation.
"I joined because I wanted to serve and do my part," according to Quezada. "Several of my uncles, cousins, nephews, and my father have served in the [military] services."
Quezada and the Seabees in her regiment deployed from their homeport of Port Hueneme, Calif. to complete a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Quezada is of Spanish decent and is the daughter of Manuel Zuniga who resides in Fontana, Calif., and Irene Alvarado, who resides in San Diego, Calif. She has five children: Johnny of Hesperia, Darlene and Albert Jr. of Fontana, Michele of Chino, and Reina of San Bernardino, Calif.
"I try to teach my heritage to my kids and their children," said Quezada. "My father taught me to be close to family and be there for one another. Family has always been and will always be very important."
While deployed, Quezada misses her family and traditions that she knows they will enjoy in the coming months.
"I would love to have a siesta in the middle of the day," said Quezada. "One of my favorite traditions is making tamales for Christmas and New Years. The most enjoyable tradition is the breaking of the piñata and the excitement on the kids' faces."
Quezada works as a Petty Officer of the Watch in the regiment's Combat Operations Center.
This work, Sailor Shares Her Hispanic Heritage, by PO1 Ernesto Hernandez Fonte, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.