WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy joined the nation Sept. 15 in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, which will be observed until Oct. 15.
With a national theme of "Many Backgrounds, Many Stories...One American Spirit," the observance celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
According to 2010 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics comprise 16.3 percent of the total United States population, or 50.5 million people, forming our county's largest racial or ethnic minority. Additionally, it is projected that by 2050, a quarter of the nation's workforce will be Hispanic.
The Navy's workforce reflects this diversity - today, nearly 60,000 Hispanic active duty and reserve Sailors and officers and nearly 10,000 Hispanic civilians serve in the Navy Total Force, including three Hispanic flag officers and one rear admiral select, 158 Hispanic master chiefs and five Hispanic members of the Senior Executive Service.
The Navy's senior Hispanic flag officer, Rear Adm. Patrick Brady, commander of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), emphasized the contributions of Hispanic service members to the readiness of the Navy.
"America's strength lies in its diversity of backgrounds, experiences and skills," said Brady. "As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, we recognize the Hispanic Sailors that have proudly served in the Navy during every war and conflict since the American Revolution. Today, Hispanic Sailors, officers and civilians serve across every facet of naval operations and are critical to our Navy's success."
According to Dr. Regina Akers, director of the Diversity Project at the Naval History and Heritage Command, this legacy of service of Hispanic Sailors dates back to our nation's independence.
"Hispanic Americans have served honorably in every war of our nation's history - from David Glasgow Farragut, who became America's first admiral during the Civil War; to Cmdr. Marion Frederick Ramirez de Arellano, the Navy's first Hispanic submarine commanding officer and recipient of two Silver Stars in World War II; to aviator Everett Alvarez, who endured eight years of torture after being shot down over Vietnam, to Cmdr. Yvette Davids, who became the Navy's first Hispanic female warship commander in 2007; to Rear Adm. Samuel Perez, who managed all port activities and coordination during Operation United Response in Haiti in January 2010," said Akers.
"Hispanic civilians, past and present, also contribute immensely to our Navy's legacy," continued Akers. "One notable example was Secretary of the Navy Edward Hidalgo, a Mexican-American who made recruitment of Hispanics a top priority for the Navy. One of his recommendations was the establishment of an organization of Hispanic naval officers that would link the Hispanic community and the sea services in order to attract quality Hispanic officer candidates. This goal is embodied today through the Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO), an organization that fosters the professional development and mentorship of Hispanic Sailors, officers and civilians in the sea services."
These individuals are only a few examples of the notable Hispanics in our Naval service," Akers said. "They have not stood on the fringes of service, but rather at its center as makers of American naval history."
For more information about Hispanics in the Navy from the Naval History and Heritage Command, visit http://www.history.navy.mil/special%20highlights/hispanic/hispanic-index.htm.
For more information about Hispanics in the military visit the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) website at http://www.deomi.org/SpecialObservance/.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.