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    America Gave Me Freedom

    America Gave Me Freedom

    Photo By Spc. Brenda Salgado Morales | Pfc. Darwing Mendoza, left, Spc. Arman Nassiri, right, infantryman assigned to Bravo...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Brenda Salgado Morales 

    4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

    FORT CARSON, Colo. -- National Hispanic Heritage Month, Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, is celebrated annually in the United States as a month to honor the contributions Hispanics have attributed to American culture and history. It was established as a week-long remembrance by legislation in 1968 and extended to a month in 1988. During this time, the United States honors both fallen and active duty Hispanic American Soldiers who have defended American freedom.

    Pfc. Darwing Mendoza, an infantryman assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was born in Nicaragua and was brought to the United States when he was 11 years old by his mother and stepfather. He had arrived to a country that had a different culture and language. Escaping much hardship in Nicaragua, Mendoza was happy to have relocated to the United States.

    “I lived in poverty, in a third world country where I was not safe,” said Mendoza. “I remember feeling so much joy knowing my mother was taking me out of that world.”

    Mendoza began speaking English within two years. He recalls when recruiters would visit his high school. Seeing them in their uniform gave him a sense of respect and pride, he wanted to feel the same way. After marriage and his first born child, Mendoza felt the urgency to provide for his family. He remembered the recruiters he once met in high school and decided to enlist and become a Soldier.

    “I felt like I accomplished something big in my life, something bigger than myself. I don't think people understand what Basic Combat Training is. It's the biggest accomplishment that I’ve done for myself and my family,” said Mendoza.

    According to the U.S. Army, more than 160,000 Hispanic Americans serve in the Total Army, nearly 17% of the total force. Army diversity is knowing who our people are, what value each individual brings and optimizing those talents and dedication. Mendoza says he values his family and owes his hard work and constant dedication to his wife and kids.

    “If it wasn't for them I wouldn’t push myself as hard as I do," said Mendoza. “Everything I do is for them.”

    Diversity is important to the armed forces and they strive to assure everyone is represented. According to Bishop Garrison, the senior advisor to the secretary of defense for human capital and diversity, equity and inclusion, approximately 41% of the military identify as members of minority groups, and the number will continue to grow. Mendoza’s work and dedication to his military family does not go unoticed. He is recognized as the best and most experienced driver in his unit.

    “Pfc. Mendoza is a really good person, he’s always on time, ready to work and he brings a cheeriness to the platoon,” said Sgt. James Mullis, an infantryman assigned to Bravo Co., 2nd Bn, 23rd Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div.

    The U.S. commemorates the sacrifice that hispanic Americans have given to serve. A total of 44 service members of Hispanic heritage have been awarded the Medal of Honor for their dedication and sacrifice. Mendoza wears the uniform with honor for his family and his fellow brothers and sisters.

    “I wear this uniform with pride,” said Mendoza. “I am proud to serve my country, proud to be part of this country because it reminds me of the life I once had and the freedom that I now have.”




    Date Taken: 08.16.2023
    Date Posted: 09.14.2023 18:51
    Story ID: 453477

    Web Views: 75
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