In an ever-evolving world where diversity and inclusivity take center stage, it is imperative for military professionals to expand their horizons and understand the remarkable stories and accomplishments of individuals from various backgrounds. The Hispanic-American community has significantly contributed to the tapestry of American history, demonstrating unwavering dedication, resilience, and leadership across a spectrum of endeavors. This curated reading list encapsulates the extraordinary achievements of Hispanic Americans, spanning from the battlefield to the corridors of power, and offers invaluable insights into the rich mosaic of experiences that have shaped our nation. By delving into these compelling narratives, military professionals can glean invaluable lessons on determination, adaptability, and unity. Ultimately, enriching their perspectives and enhancing their ability to lead in a diverse and complex world.
By: Maj Gen (Ret.) F. Valenzuela & J. Lemons (2008)
In March 2003, Maj Gen Freddie Valenzuela presided over the funeral of the first casualty of the Iraq War, a soldier who was not yet a U.S. citizen. This particular event prompted him to reflect on the motivations of such individuals who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the country. Through the lens of his thirty-three-year career spanning various wars, including the Cold, Gulf, and Iraq wars, General Valenzuela explores the historical contributions of Hispanics in the military. He also takes readers on a journey to understand why the military must take steps to enhance diversity for its global effectiveness.
By: D. Gutierrez (2019)
Patriots from the Barrio: The Story of Company E, 141st Infantry” follows Dave Gutierrez’s quest to uncover the remarkable wartime service of his cousin Ramon Gutierrez, nicknamed “El Sancudo.” Ramon earned notable honors during World War II, escaping from the Germans twice and serving in Company E, 141st Infantry, the sole all-Mexican American unit in the 36th “Texas” Division. The book vividly recounts the division’s contributions, from landing in Italy’s Salerno in 1943 to battling across challenging terrains, enduring harsh conditions, and facing a tragic incident at the Rapido River. Through archival research and personal accounts, the book honors the unit’s unheralded heroism, offering a testament to their dedication to the ideals they fought for under the American flag.
By: M. Rivas-Rodriguez & E. Zamora (2009)
Beyond the Latino World War II Hero focuses on home-front issues and government relations, delving into new arenas of research and incorporating stirring oral histories. Maggie Rivas-Rodríguez delves into lesser-known aspects of the Latino war experience, including the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on veterans’ families, the influence of Mexican-American women on subsequent activism, the role of radio during wartime, and themes such as the participation of Mexican nationals and international negotiations. By combining diverse perspectives and oral histories, this book offers a comprehensive perspective on the complex and multifaceted Latino experience during World War II.
By: V. Fernandez (2006)
“Hispanic Military Heroes” is a comprehensive historical review celebrating the accomplishments of Hispanic military veterans and civilians across America’s military history. The book’s 13 chapters spotlight significant stories, such as the 42 Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients, a story about Hero Street, a street in a Mexican barrio near Chicago that sent more soldiers than any other part of the U.S., and the legacy of Dr. Hector, a veteran who cared for Hispanic veterans and established the American G.I. Forum. Enriched with 180 photos, this hard-bound volume offers a compelling narrative of Hispanic individuals’ noteworthy roles within the military.
Military Professional Spotlight: Carmen Contreras-Bozak
Carmen Contreras-Bozak enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) just 6 months after the Pearl Harbor attack. Her bilingual abilities, including fluency in five languages allowed her to become the first Hispanic woman to join the WAAC where she served as an interpreter.
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Its observance celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.