NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) crew members celebrated Hispanic Heritage month during a special American Heritage Observance Committee (AHOC) program in the ship's forecastle Oct. 14.
The event, preceded by a ceremonial cake-cutting and honorary feast on the ship's mess decks earlier in the day, celebrated the vast diversity of the ship's crew and highlighted important Hispanic figures in military history.
"Diversity is an important tool for our work force," said Senior Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW/AW) Edward Marrero. "Different cultures, backgrounds and perspectives make the Navy a stronger team."
The singing of the national anthem by Operations Specialist 3rd Class Daniel McFadden officially kicked-off the event, with Commanding Officer Capt. Ted Carter and guest speaker Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) (AW/SW) Luis Torres offering their own remarks in addition to those made by AHOC members.
"We celebrate unique diversity and cultures on board Carl Vinson," said Carter. "Through diversity, we can better understand every person's skills, talents and experiences."
While the Carl Vinson AHOC team holds various heritage celebrations for the crew year round, the Hispanic Heritage program was the first to be conducted on board the ship, a sign that the aircraft carrier is nearing the end of its shipyard period and its return to operational status.
"There are roughly 63,000 Hispanics serving in uniform, with about 11 percent of the Navy made up of Hispanic Sailors," said Carter. "They have served in every war since the revolution, and 43 Hispanic service members have received the Medal of Honor for their extraordinary service. That's pretty spectacular."
Carl Vinson is undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished, and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.