USS IWO JIMA, At Sea (NNS) -- Hispanic Heritage Month is in full swing aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima.
The Navy officially observes Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 in recognition of the many service members who are of Hispanic descent, and have helped to support and defend our nation.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point of Hispanic Heritage Month because it is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries-Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18.
"This month highlights diversity and what Hispanics bring, and have brought, to the fight throughout the Navy," said Iwo Jima's Command Master Chief Mario Romero, who is of Mexican descent. "It also exposes others to the cultures around them they may have never been exposed to before."
Aboard Iwo Jima, 20 percent of the ship's crew identify themselves as having Hispanic lineage. Whether providing support on the flight deck, in the ship's combat center or the main engine room, this group continues to provide an essential support to keep Iwo Jima mission ready and battle capable.
"Our Hispanic Sailors are an integral part of our team, which is pretty much seamless," said Romero. "We have three Hispanic master chiefs aboard who show junior Sailors that they can make it to the top of the enlisted ranks, and there is nothing stopping them if that is their goal."
Iwo Jima's multicultural committee and Latin American Association have planned multiple events throughout the observance to include a presentation, native dancing performances, a special Latin American themed dinner and other events highlighting Hispanic heritage.
"There are many Latin American countries represented aboard." said Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Dominic Tovias, an Iwo Jima Latin American Association member. "We want to show everyone as many aspects of our cultures as we can, and show that we are proud Hispanics serving in the U.S. Navy."
Iwo Jima, along with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, are deployed and supporting maritime strategy operations and theater security cooperation efforts in U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
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