R 291642Z AUG 19
MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC MRA MP//
SUBJ/2019 NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH//
REF/A/PUBLIC LAW 90-498/17SEP1968/NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE WEEK//
REF/B/PUBLIC LAW 100-402/17AUG1988/AMENDMENT TO PL 90-498/NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH//
POC/T. M. VELAZQUEZ/CIV/UNIT: MRA (MPE)/TEL: COM (703)784-9371/TEL: DSN (278)/EMAIL: THERESA.VELAZQUEZ@USMC.MIL//
GENTEXT/REMARKS/1. Since proclaimed by Public Law 100-402 in 1988, September 15th through October 15th is observed as “National Hispanic Heritage Month.” During Hispanic Heritage Month, we take the opportunity to honor all Americans of Hispanic descent and to acknowledge their ongoing contributions to the success and development of our Nation. The 2019 observance theme is: “Hispanic Americans - A History of Serving Our Nation.”
2. Among our Nation’s Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH) recipients, there are thirteen Hispanic Marines; eleven enlisted and two officers. Colonel Jay R. Vargas, USMC (Ret.) (Arizona) is the second commissioned officer of Hispanic descent to receive the MOH for his actions while serving as a Captain with Company G, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade at Dai Do, Republic of Vietnam. Suffering from wounds received on April 30, 1968, Captain Vargas combined Company G with two other companies and led an attack upon the fortified village of Dai Do the following day. Receiving additional wounds during an intense and extended battle lasting into the night, Captain Vargas led Company G to resist enemy probes and counterattacks. Upon receiving reinforcements on May 2, 1968, Captain Vargas launched an assault into the village of Dinh To, which resulted in a fierce counteroffensive and hand-to-hand combat. Wounded for a third time while assisting his Marines in the open, Captain Vargas saved his seriously wounded battalion commander by carrying him nearly 100 yards into a covered position. Captain Vargas then resumed directing the fight. Born in Winslow, Arizona in 1940, Colonel Vargas retired from active duty in 1993 and accepted appointment as Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. He served as Veterans’ Liaison for the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs from 2001 to 2009, and he continues to advocate for veterans’ welfare causes.
3. Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Sergeant Rafael Peralta (1979-2004) (California) joined the Marine Corps immediately after receiving his green card in 2000, and he was naturalized an American citizen during his military service. He deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom as a scout team leader with 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Sergeant Peralta was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his selfless actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah when he received multiple wounds and ultimately absorbed the blast of a grenade to save his Marines. An Arleigh Burke class, guided missile destroyer was named in honor of Sergeant Peralta. The U.S.S. Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) was commissioned on July 29, 2017, and the ship’s motto is Fortis Ad Finem (“Courageous to the End”).
4. LtGen Pedro A. del Valle (Puerto Rico) is acknowledged as the first Hispanic Marine Corps Lieutenant General. Born on San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1893, he later graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1915. In 1931, Major del Valle was one of three Marine majors who began drafting the “Tentative Manual for Landing Operations,” which became the foundation for Marine amphibious operations in the WWII Pacific Theater. During WWII in 1942, Colonel del Valle commanded the 11th Marine Artillery Regiment with 1st Marine Division at Guadalcanal. Subsequently, MajGen Alexander Vandegrift, CG for 1st Marine Division, recommended Colonel del Valle for promotion to brigadier general for his superior leadership during the Guadalcanal campaign, and he was awarded the Legion of Merit. In 1945, MajGen del Valle was the CG, 1st Marine Division during the Battle of Okinawa, and for his leadership during and after the battle, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Today, the Marine Corps offers the Pedro del Valle Leadership Scholarship in his honor.
5. To learn more about the Marine Corps’ Hispanic heritage, Medal of Honor recipients, and U.S. military history, visit the Library of the Marine Corps (grc-usmcu.libguides.com/library-of-the-marine-corps) or select a book from the Commandant’s Professional Reading list (grc-usmcu.libguides.com/usmc-reading-list).
6. During this observance month, commanders are encouraged to recognize and celebrate the invaluable service and selfless contributions Hispanics - military, veteran, and civilian - give to our country and Corps. Commanders are further encouraged to conduct programs and promote participation in observance events within their commands and across their local communities.
7. Release authorized by Col D. L. Shipley, Division Director, Manpower Plans and Policy.//