Salutes & Awards

October 18, 2012

Hispanic Heritage Month

Pfc. Eugene A. Obregon, one of the first Hispanic Marine recipients of the Medal of Honor.

MARADMIN 445/12: In honor of the many contributions made by the Hispanic community to the United States, the nation observes Hispanic heritage month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Hispanic Heritage Month originally began in 1968 as Hispanic heritage week under President Johnson, and was later expanded to a full month by President Reagan with respect to the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries on Sept. 15 – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.  Along with those countries, Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18.  Throughout our history, Hispanic Americans have distinguished themselves in the Marine Corps and continue to do so today.  This year’s Hispanic heritage month theme is “many backgrounds, many stories…one American spirit.”

There have been a total of 13 Hispanic Marine Medal of Honor recipients.  One of the first Marines of Hispanic descent to receive the Medal of Honor for efforts in the Korean War was Pfc. Eugene A. Obregon.

In 1950, during the assault on the city of Seoul, while with Company G, 3rd Battalion,  5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), Obregon observed a fellow marine fall wounded in the line of fire while his company was pinned down by enemy machine gun fire.  Without hesitation and armed only with a pistol, he dashed from his covered position to the side of the casualty.  Firing his pistol with one hand as he ran, he grasped his comrade by the arm with his other hand and, despite the great peril to himself; he pulled his comrade to the side of the road.  Still underfire, Obregon used his body as a shield to protect his comrade when he, himself was mortally wounded.  The wounded comrade was later hospitalized, recovered, and returned to duty, due to the sacrifice made by Obregon.

Hispanics have participated as members of the United States Marines Corps from the Boxer Rebellion to the most recent military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Throughout the history of our country, Hispanic Marines have distinguished themselves in combat, many receiving combat decorations for their heroic actions in the face of danger.  Both at home and abroad, Hispanic Marines have undoubtedly contributed to the development and safety of this country.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, commanders are encouraged to take time to increase the awareness and celebrate the dedicated service and contributions of Hispanic Americans to our country and corps.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma will do so Nov. 1, when the station is scheduled to celebrate Multicultural Day at the station parade deck.

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