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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."
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."
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
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."
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."
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
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."
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."
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."
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
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."
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."
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
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."