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Thursday Tidings: National Hispanic Heritage Month

Introduction By NHF Executive Director, Rear Admiral Sonny Masso, USN (Ret.)

Thursday Tidings this week focuses on National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is a great time to reflect on our Navy’s rich Hispanic Heritage and the many accomplishments this part of our community has made in making our Navy the best in the world. Major League Baseball last night honored the career of Roberto Clemente as part of its Hispanic Heritage and appreciation. Some of the persons we will feature are the Navy equivalent. Service over self. Sacrifice. Going to any lengths to accomplish a mission. Ethics. Integrity.

During my career I was influenced by and proud to work either for, alongside, or as a leader to, many phenomenal men and women from the Hispanic Community. Names like VADM Diego “Duke” Hernandez, Dionel Aviles, Juan Garcia, Bill Navas, come to mind as profoundly influential and successful leaders whose service made a profound and lasting impact on our Navy and Nation. Everett Alvarez Jr. was our longest serving Prisoner of War in Vietnam. Our Navy was once led by Secretary of the Navy Edward Hidalgo. We have named many of our ships after Hispanic heroes such as: the USS 1st Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez (T-AK-3010), USS Benavidez (T-AKR-306) (I had the honor of attending his Medal of Honor ceremony), USS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14), USS Garcia (FF-1040), USS Gonzalez (DDG-66), USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115), and USS Farragut (DDG-99) (who is featured below). Our Navy’s 11th MCPON, Joe R. Campa, was raised near my hometown of East Los Angeles (Whittier), RADM Sam Perez (USNA ’80) relieved me on USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964) and my dear friend and great Navy Nurse Corps Officer, RADM Christina Alvarado come to mind among many other Hispanic leaders and heroes I had the honor to serve with.

We at the Naval Historical Foundation exist to: “Preserve, Commemorate, Educate, and Inspire” our Foundation membership. Enjoy our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and reach out to your Hispanic shipmates and friends in recognizing the achievements of their peers in their phenomenal service to our Navy and Nation. If you are not a member of NHF please consider joining! 

Above: A Navy recruitment poster, featuring Admiral David Farragut and his famous command.

David Glasgow Farragut, the first person to earn the rank of Admiral, came from a family of Spanish mariners. Farragut served a long career in the Navy, commanding ships and men during the Mexican War, the Civil War, and more. It was during his leadership of the Union Naval forces at the Battle of Mobile Bay that he gave the famous order, “Damn the Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead!” While the historical accuracy of this phrasing is disputed, Farragut’s brave leadership was unquestionably the key to the Union success in the Gulf of Mexico, itself a major contributor towards Union victory overall.

Admiral Farragut, in addition to being the eponym for a number of vessels, is commemorated by Farragut square in Washington, D.C. He is also one of the few admirals to appear on a US Postage stamp.

Learn more about Admiral Farragut’s famous order HERE.

Rear Admiral Henry Gabriel Sanchez

From the Naval History and Heritage Command

Henry Gabriel Sanchez was born on 29 December 1907 in New York, New York. Receiving his early education in his native city, he entered the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, from New York, as a Midshipman on 26 June 1926. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on 5 June 1930, he chose a career in Naval Aviation, and subsequently received periodic promotions in grade, attaining the rank of Captain (temporary) on 1 April 1946. He reverted to his permanent rank of Commander on 1 December 1947, but was later selected for promotion to Captain, confirmed on 21 April 1949. [He later advanced to rear admiral on the retired list.]

After graduation from the Academy in 1930, he had sea duty aboard the USS Trenton until September 1931. He then returned to the United States for flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. Designated Naval Aviator on 31 September 1932, he remained at the Pensacola Air Station until October of that year, when he was ordered to report to Aircraft, Battle Force, USS Saratoga, flagship. Later he was assigned to Fighting Squadron Three-B, attached consecutively to the USS Langley and USS Ranger. He continued service with that Squadron until June 1935, and thereafter until April 1937 had duty at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia.

Learn more about the Hispanic American Heritage in the U.S. Navy from the Naval History and Heritage Command, HERE.

Next week on Thursday Tidings, we will be looking at the 6 consecutive orbits of the planet Earth completed on October 3rd, 1962, by U.S. Navy Captain and Astronaut Wally Schirra.

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