FORT MEADE, Md. (NNS) -- Sailors from U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet and Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Maryland paused to recognize the importance of Hispanic Americans' contributions to the Navy at a Hispanic American Heritage Month celebration held at Fort Meade Base Theater, Oct. 11.
Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet opened the event welcoming the audience and highlighting the strength that diverse backgrounds bring.
"Hispanic Americans helped create this nation from the very beginning and it is this willingness to be part of something bigger, while taking great pride in [one's] heritage, that makes our Navy and our country great."
The Navy "...assimilates people from many different backgrounds to support the mission - it is a microcosm of our nation," Rogers went on to say. "I am proud to be part of a team that can do that."
Joe R. Campa, Jr., the 11th master chief petty officer of the Navy, was the keynote speaker. He shared his experiences growing up just outside of Los Angeles as a third generation Mexican-American in a diverse neighborhood and went on to discuss life after enlisting in the Navy in 1980.
"[After joining the Navy] I soon realized the only limits to success were those I imposed on myself," Campa said.
Campa noted he had not particularly defined himself as Hispanic given the diversity of his neighborhood and his father's focus on assimilation, but once he became a chief petty officer, that changed.
"Hispanic Sailors sought me out as a leader, [not only as a chief, but] because of our shared heritage and I realized I had a responsibility to give back," Campa said.
He also spoke about seeing the difference in the Navy from the time he joined in 1980 when there were relatively few Hispanics to the end of the 1980s as "...the Navy focused on diversity in its recruiting efforts," recognizing that to be an effective fighting force, diversity must be reflected at all levels.
Capt. Timothy White, NIOC Maryland's commanding officer, closed the event reminding the audience of the importance of remembering not only the rich Hispanic heritage - and diverse backgrounds of each Sailor - that shaped how we reached where we are today, but also the strength in unity that comes from the oath to the Constitution uniformed members take and service to the nation through the U.S. Navy.
Afterwards, the guests enjoyed an elaborate spread of dishes from Hispanic cultures around the world prepared by NIOC Maryland Sailors.
Hispanic Heritage Week was first observed in 1968 under then-President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded to a 30-day period in August 1988 under then-President Ronald Reagan.
Sept. 15 was chosen as the beginning of the 30-day period (Sept. 15 - Oct. 15), because it marks the anniversary of five Latin American countries' independence and includes Mexico's Sept. 16 independence day, according to the Library of Congress.
U.S. Fleet Cyber Command serves as the central operational authority for networks, cryptologic/signals intelligence, cyber, information operations, electronic warfare, and space capabilities for the Navy. U.S. 10th Fleet serves as the numbered fleet for Fleet Cyber Command and exercises operational control of assigned naval forces. NIOC Maryland 's mission is to conduct information operations and provide cryptologic and related intelligence support to fleet, joint, and national commanders as well as administrative and personnel support to all Department of the Navy members assigned to the Fort Meade area.
For more news from Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, visit www.fcc.navy.mil.
For more information about NIOC Maryland, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Navy-Information-Operations-Command-NIOC-Maryland/.