2022 Hispanic Heritage Month

Master Sgt. Luis Aguilar

162nd Wing, Arizona Air National Guard

Aguilar has served since 1996 and has three children in the military. He deployed to the United Arab Emirates in 2010 and says this observance "means everything to me. It was ingrained at inception that we’re all in it as one team. The Air Force Core Values is something my father really emphasized with me growing up, and I’ve passed this on to all personnel I’ve trained to include family members."

Spc. Ana Deatherage

3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, Washington National Guard

Deatherage has served more than five years, including a deployment to Kuwait. A Mexican American, she says this observance "brings honor to those who have served before us. To my Hispanic/Latino brothers and sisters in arms who have sacrificed their sweat, blood, tears and time to pave the way for the rest of us … thank you. ... I love my Latino culture and the food, music and dancing that seems to bring us all together."

Staff Sgt. Jennifer Estrada

A Battery, 2-146th Field Artillery, Washington National Guard

Estrada joined the Guard in 2007. "Joining the military had never crossed my mind until a recruiter came to my high school. Now here I am, still in the military 15 years later." She says this observance "represents respect, honor and pride for our country."

Maj. Karla N. Evans

Joint Force Headquarters, South Carolina National Guard

Evans has served more than 18 years, including deployments to Kosovo, the southern border and the nation's capital. She came from Mexico when she was 8 years old, and says she can never do enough to repay America for the opportunities it has provided her and her siblings. This month's observance "gives me an opportunity to educate. People have stated that I have an international face, and some would never guess that I was born in Mexico. I like it when people ask me about my cultural heritage."

Tech Sgt. Angel Figueroa

213th Engineering Installation Squadron, New York Air National Guard

Figueroa, a Guard member for more than 14 years, deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom and Freedom Sentinel. He is a 23-year veteran of the New York Police Department and a 9/11 first responder. This month "highlights how far Latinos have come throughout the years and their contributions to not only the military, but throughout the world."

Col. Matthew W. Gallegos

Joint Force Headquarters - Virginia Air National Guard

Gallegos joined the Air Force in 1989 and the Air National Guard in 1991. His most memorable deployment was to Afghanistan in 2011-2012. "Observances such as this mean we take the time to celebrate the contributions and achievements of our service men-service women from different cultures."

Tech Sgt. Luis Giron

105th Base Defense Squadron, New York National Guard

Giron has served in the Guard for 12 years and says diversity is what makes the military a lethal force. To him, Hispanic Heritage Month means "having pride in your culture and showcasing your roots."

Master Sgt. Christopher Gonzalez

203rd RED HORSE, Virginia Air National Guard

Gonzalez served in the Navy before joining the Virginia Air National Guard in 2013. His most recent deployment was to Jordan and his most memorable mission was helping to build a school in El Salvador. "Being born Puerto Rican has been a blessing, from the culture to the great food. I agree all heritages should be celebrated to the fullest and enjoy the different aspects they offer."

Master Sgt. Alexander Lombana

228th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, South Carolina National Guard

Lombana joined the Guard in 1999 and has deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom (2004) and Operation Enduring Freedom (2013-2014). "This observance means a lot to me because the military does not forget the different cultures and nationalities that exist. I am a proud Colombian and, at the same time, I am proud to be (an) American Soldier."

Officer Candidate Valeska Mosquera

238th Training Regiment, Kentucky National Guard

Mosquera, a combat medic, joined the Guard in 2020. She came to the United States from Venezuela in 2013. "It is important for me to be heard. I have always spoken my mind, and having the opportunity to be heard in a community where you need to earn every opportunity is great. I want to be an example for other women and Soldiers in the Latino community and my country. I want to lead by example and help others to achieve their goals and have the opportunities that I did not have when I first came to the U.S."

Tech Sgt. Julia Neblett

118th Communications Flight, Tennessee Air National Guard

Neblett followed her father into the military in 2002 and joined the Guard in 2007. The best part of service, she says, is "that everyone you serve with becomes family." This observance means "that regardless of the color of your skin or where you are from, you still matter. The military is literally a melting pot. We are not defined by our skin color. … We still bleed the same."

Sgt. 1st Class Mark Sierra

Alpha-Troop, 1-303rd Cavalry Regiment, Washington National Guard

Sierra joined in 2005 and recently was deployed in Jordan. "My favorite part has been the camaraderie that I’ve developed with other men and women. It’s not always fun, but when you 'embrace the suck' together, you develop a bond like no other. Also the amount of doors that the Army has opened up for me are countless."

Capt. Luis Torres

1041st Transportation Company/ 10th Homeland Response Force, Washington National Guard

Torres, the son of migrant workers from Mexico, joined the Guard in 2002 and has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. He also helped respond to the COVID pandemic, civil disturbances, Hurricane Katrina, floods, fires and snowstorms. This observance is "a testament to what makes America great and the American dream. We are a melting pot of peoples who may have been born somewhere else but grew up here and love the freedom and opportunities afforded that we aspire to serve and give back. Service for Mexican Americans has always come easily and the Pacific Northwest is no different."

Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Vasquez

205th Regional Training Institute (RTI), Washington National Guard

Vasquez joined the military in 2003 as a result of the 9/11 attack on the United States. He has served in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Iraq and responded to domestic fires and flooding. "Being recognized not only brings me honor for my service to duty, but I know I am making my family, those that served before me, and those who will serve after me proud to be Salvadoran American serving in the U.S. military."