This year’s Memorial Day we would like to honor some of the Hispanic men and women that have given it all for the sake of the great nation they call home.
There are currently 1.6 million Latinxs serving the U.S. Military, and that number keeps growing every year, according to the Syracuse University D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Many of them have depicted great pride in it, and have given everything they can to an outstanding performance. This can be observed throughout U.S. history, and we share that pride today.
A proud Latinx Heritage in the Military History
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 40 Latinxs have been granted Medals of Honor throughout U. S. history, and they have shown a “proud and indeed enviable” record of military service dating back to The Civil War in 1861. About 20,000 Latino servicemen and women participated in Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991, 80,000 in the Vietnam War in 1959-1973, and more than 400,000 in World War II from 1939-to 1945.
“Whether their heritage can be traced to Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, or one of the dozens of other Spanish-speaking countries or cultures, they’ve answered the ‘call to duty,’ defending America with unwavering valor and honor,” according to the website.
Today, we commemorate some of the brave men and women recognized for their duty:
The First Latinx Medal: Humbert Roque Versace
Captain Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace (July 2, 1937 – September 26, 1965) was a United States Army officer of Puerto Rican-Italian descent who was posthumously awarded the United States’ highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his heroic actions while a prisoner of war (POW) during the Vietnam War. He was the first member of the U.S. Army to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions performed in Southeast Asia while in captivity.
Women on the Front: Carmen Lozano Dumler
Carmen Lozano Dumler, one of the first Puerto Rican women to become a U.S. Army officer, shows the dedication of Hispanic American women to serve our country.
In 1944, because of the events of War World II, the U.S. Army sent some members of the Women’s Army Corps to Puerto Rico to recruit more people. That’s where Dumler heard about this opportunity to help out. Upon graduating from Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in the spring of 1944, Dumler volunteered as an Army nurse. As one of 13 selected applicants, she became a second lieutenant. She described it as the happiest day of her life.
Dumler served in different hospitals, providing her knowledge as a translator and her support to the patients who appreciated having someone to talk to who shared the same language. She trained as a nurse at the Rodriguez General Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dumler later served in the British West Indies, where she attended to wounded soldiers returning from France.
Texan Pride: Roy P. Benavidez
Master Sergeant Raul Perez “Roy” Benavidez (born August 5, 1935, in Texas) was the son of a Mexican farmer, Salvador Benavidez, Jr., and a Yaqui mother, Teresa Perez. Benavidez shined shoes at the local bus station, labored on farms in California and Washington, and worked at a tire shop in El Campo. He dropped out of school at age 15, to work full-time to help support the family.
He distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.
You can learn more about Latinx’s great Military History on the Hispanic Veterans Leadership Alliance Medal of Honor Recipients List, and read a wonderful take on their impact on all major battles through U.S. history on the Army’s Hispanic History site.
Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to learn more about marketing trends, digital news, and all things Latinx Americans.