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By Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Rodgers
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) American Diversity Heritage Observance Committee (ADHOC) hosted a Hispanic Heritage Month observance with the embarked staffs of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group (GHWBCSG), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 celebrating the impact that Hispanic Sailors have contributed to the Navy and the nation, Sept. 30, 2022.
The theme of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month observance is “Unidos –Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation”. Unidos can be roughly translated to mean united, connected, or close.
“Unidos is united together for the common goal,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Pedro Salazar. “We all come from different background and customs. Different walks, common goals.”
As of December 2021, approximately 67,000 Sailors of Hispanic heritage serve in the U.S. Navy, with over 500 Hispanic Sailors serving CSG-10.
Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, CSG-10, GHWBCSG, from Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, was inducted into the Puerto Rican Military Hall of Fame. He is the highest ranking Puerto Rican officer in the Navy today.
“Hispanic Americans have enriched our Nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of closely knit families and proud communities.” said Velez. “Each of us -Hispanic or otherwise- can and should be proud of our cultural heritage.”
Velez also spoke of his grandfather, a Korean War veteran and member of the 65h Infantry Regiment. The regiment was composed entirely of Puerto Rican soldiers and is famous for their heroic service in battle, for which they were awarded four Distinguished Service Crosses, 125 Silver Stars, and hundreds of Bronze Stars. They were also awarded the Presidential and Meritorious Unit Commendations, two Korean Presidential Unit Citations and the Greek Gold Medal for Bravery.
“I talked about some of the enormous contributions that Hispanics have made to our country throughout history.” said Velez. “This is important, because while our collective history is replete with Hispanic achievements, Hispanics have not always done a great job highlighting the achievements of our people.”
During his speech Velez cited the ship’s namesake, President George H.W. Bush. “Hispanic Americans have enriched our Nation beyond measure with the quite strength of closely knit families and proud communities,” said Bush during 1989 National Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation.
As a congressman, George H.W. Bush was a sponsor of the original Hispanic Heritage Week resolution in 1968, and later as president, he declared the 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic Sailors have helped shape the Navy into the fighting force it is today. During his remarks, Velez spoke about notable Hispanics in U.S. military history. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99), one of the destroyers attached to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 and a part of CSG-10, GHWBCSG, is named for Adm. David Farragut. Farragut's father was from Minorca, Spain, and the captain of a Spanish merchant ship. In 1864, Farragut displayed his tenacity in battle when after one of his ships was sunk by a torpedo, he uttered his famous words, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
Inspired by his bravado, the ships won a decisive victory. For Farragut’s efforts, the Navy created a new rank, vice admiral, to which he was appointed. After the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln promoted him again to the newly created rank of full admiral.
George H.W. Bush is the flagship of CSG-10 and the George H.W. Bush CSG. CSG-10 is comprised of George H.W. Bush, CVW-7, DESRON-26, the Information Warfare Commander, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).
The ships of DESRON 26 within CSG-10 are USS Nitze (DDG 94), USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Truxtun (DDG 103), and USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119).
The squadrons of CVW-7 embarked aboard George H.W. Bush are the “Sidewinders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86, the “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103, “Nighthawks” of VFA-136, the “Pukin Dogs” of VFA-143, the “Bluetails” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, the “Patriots” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, the “Nightdippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, and the “Grandmasters” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46.
The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
For more information about the history of Hispanic Americans and their numerous contributions to the Navy, visit Naval History and Heritage Command's website. For more information about CSG-10, visit us on Facebook or LinkedIn.