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.
"Since before the United States was a sovereign nation, people of Hispanic descent have supported and defended this country's ideal of freedom and government of the people and by the people," according to Retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe R. Campa Jr. "In 1779 Jorge Farragut, a seaman born on the Spanish island of Minorca, joined the South Carolina Navy and fought at the battle of Savannah and at the second defense of Charleston. Farragut is thought to be one of the first Hispanic Revolutionary War heroes."
Today Sailors are deployed throughout the world including Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. 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 Seaman Apprentice Cosme Martin Hernandez Jr. from Mission, Texas, assigned to the 30th Naval Construction Regiment and deployed to southern Afghanistan, are the future of our Navy.
"I joined the Navy to see and experience the world, though my main goal is to get an education and help my parents," said Hernandez. "When I get my degree, I'll be the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college. That is unless my sister beats me to it first."
Hernandez has already started attending college through the Navy's tuition assistance program. He plans to use his GI Bill to complete a graduate degree after finishing his contract.
"Right now I want to be a lawyer but I know I have to start with the basics so I'm taking advantage of the Navy's tuition assistance program and working on an undergraduate degree," said Hernandez.
Hernandez is the son of Cosme Sr. and Rosa of Mission, Texas. He is of Mexican decent and joined the Navy July 2008.
"It's somewhat tough to be Hispanic in the Navy, not because of prejudice but because of lack of Hispanic customs," according to Hernandez. "Especially here in Afghanistan, I miss Spanish music, dancing and speaking Spanish with people."
Hernandez is nicknamed the "Salsa King" and is the most junior Sailor in the regiment. He is responsible for correspondence and tracking over 2,700 Soldiers, Seabees and Airmen from six subordinate units and the regiment.
This work, Sailor Shares His Hispanic Heritage, by PO1 Ernesto Hernandez Fonte, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.