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McConnell celebrates Hispanic Americans

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- -- Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually Sept. 15 - Oct. 15. It originally began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 when Congress requested the week including the days Sept. 15 and 16 be designated as Hispanic Heritage Week.

In 1988 National Hispanic Week became National Hispanic Month. Hispanic Heritage Month is the only heritage month celebrated over two months.

Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting date because five Latin American countries celebrate their independence on that day; Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Hispanics have made great contributions to the United States. Lance Cpl. Jose Francisco Jimenez, Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams and Private 1st Class Manuel Perez Jr. are just a few of the 39 Hispanic servicemembers who have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

Corporal Jimenez was a part of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. In Vietnam, August 28, 1969, he single-handedly destroyed enemy personnel and disengaged an anti-aircraft weapon. Even after this, he continued to press forward with extreme courage and took down enemy soldiers in a trench. He continued on his mission to kill another enemy soldier until he was wounded himself.

Sergeant Adams was assigned to the 30th Infantry, U.S. Army. In France, Oct. 28, 1944, Sergeant Adams risked his life by attempting to reopen a supply line to his infantry. He managed to kill and take down several German machine guns and reopen the supply line.

Private Perez of the Army, Company A, 511th Parachute Infantry, was stationed in the Philippine Islands on Feb. 13, 1945, when he helped his company advance forward through enemy fire. He killed 18 Japanese enemy soldiers who were keeping his company from advancing.

The theme for this year's Hispanic Heritage Month is "Hispanic Americans: Our Rich Culture Contributing to America's Future."

For more information, contact Master Sgt. Luis Garza at ext. 4909 or Tech. Sgt. Laura Bosch at ext. 4156.