US 4th Fleet Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, Diversity

Story Number: NNS121016-16Release Date: 10/16/2012 10:30:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sean Allen, U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month with a potluck picnic aboard Naval Station Mayport Oct. 16, featuring a wide variety of Hispanic specialty dishes and music from many
countries in 4th Fleet's operating area.

"Recognizing Hispanic Heritage month and diversity is important to the Navy, especially for us here at 4th Fleet, as we continue to grow and develop our relationships with our partner nations in Latin America," said Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, commander, COMUSNAVSO/C4F.

In his remarks to the command, Harris highlighted the history and future of diversity.

"Hispanic culture has been a dominant facet of the United States since early in our history. The future of the U.S. will even more depend on the success of further alignment with our fellow Americans of Latin American and Caribbean decent," Harris said. "Diversity of the many characteristics and attributes of individual Sailors and civilians enhance the overall mission readiness of 4th Fleet and the Navy."

COMUSNAVSO was originally based in Puerto Rico and operated in South America, Central America, the Caribbean Sea and surrounding waters. In 2008, U.S. 4th Fleet was reestablished and joined with COMUSNAVSO setting up headquarters aboard Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

"Since the beginning of COMNAVSOUTH at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, the command has had close ties to the Hispanic community. Over a decade later, the reestablishment of 4th Fleet and a homeport shift to Florida, those bonds have only grown stronger and continue to flourish," said Chief Information Systems Technician Jason Hurley.

"We are fortunate to have amongst our staff, those dedicated to our Nation and Navy, those who picked up their roots from Puerto Rico to continue serving and contributing to our success of mission in Latin America," he said.

The observation first started in 1968, as National Hispanic Heritage week under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Regan in 1988, to cover a 30 day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

The date of Sept. 15 is significant because it is the Independence Day for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18 respectively.

Hispanics have played a vital role in naval history, serving in virtually every at-sea conflict in American history. Hispanics can trace their tradition of naval service to men such as Lt. Jorge Farragut Mesquida, who served in the American Revolution. Seamen Phillip Bazar and Seamen John Ortgega, who distinguished themselves in combat and were awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration of the United States, and Adm. David Farragut, who served during the civil war and was the first person to ever attain the rank of full admiral.

Today nearly 70,000 sailors and civilians of Hispanic heritage are serving in the Navy, making up approximately 11 percent of the Navy's active, Reserve and civilian forces.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) support USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

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