Hispanic Marines honored for outstanding community service
By Staff Sgt. Marc Ayalin
| Marine Corps Recruiting Command | May 19, 2005
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --
The Department of Defense in concert with National Image Incorporated, honored 10 military service members during the 17th Annual Salute to Hispanics in the Military Awards Banquet, May 19.
This year’s event gathered more than 400 special guests to celebrate and honor the efforts of Hispanic military service members from the U.S. Armed Services, which included two United States Marines.
The honored Marines were Colonel Angela Salinas, Chief of Staff, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, Quantico, Va., and Gunnery Sgt. Jose Infante, Utilities Chief, Marine Wing Support Squadron 472 (Detachment B), Chicopee, Mass. Both were nominated by their commands and selected by an awards board comprised of Marines from Headquarters, United States Marine Corps. Their selection was based on achievements in fostering positive relations in community service.
For Salinas, being a recipient of this year’s award was not only an honor but also an excellent opportunity to highlight the efforts of Hispanic women in the military.
“I am proud to represent not only the Marine Corps but also those Hispanic women who have made significant contributions throughout the military services,” Salinas said. “It is important for today’s military woman to take an active role in leadership and establish a positive understanding of the armed forces among Hispanics.”
According to John D. Griego, the National Chairman of National Image, Inc., their organization teaches Hispanics how to help themselves and provides training and information about how to maximize their own potentials while influencing others. In addition, they work with public and private sector organizations, to include the Department of Defense, to select and recognize Hispanics for the roles they play within their local community.
“Whether it be through addressing issues in employment, education, civil rights or mentorship, we honor those who participate in helping the Latino community move forward,” Griego said.
Salinas and Infante more than meet the criteria for the recognition. They are leaders of Marines and role models for the Hispanic community.
For example, a groundbreaker for women in the military, Salinas was the first woman to command a Marine Corps Recruiting District where she was able to educate and influence a vast number of people about opportunities in the Marine Corps. In addition, she remains active in the civilian sector. Her involvement with the Adelante Leadership Institute involves mentoring and encouraging Hispanic women to achieve their goals.
Infante has dedicated his time and efforts as well. As a youth growing up in New Jersey, he was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and the Sea Cadets. His positive experience is what prompted him to become involved in the Young Marines program in 1996. Since then, he has gone full circle from being a Young Marines training officer to a division commander overseeing 30 units and 3,000 young members in nine northeastern states. According to Infante, sharing with young people about what is taught in the Marine Corps is a big part of what he believes in.
“Youth programs such as the Young Marines are beneficial to today’s youth because it helps instill in them some of the same values we learn,” Infante said. “Those values include leadership, integrity, and basically just being good citizens.”
In addition to the awards presentation, a tribute to fallen heroes was presented with the playing of Taps followed by a moment of silence from all who were present in the banquet room.
Meanwhile, Molino explained that the long-standing relationship between the Department of Defense and National Image Inc. is very important and will help continue to make a positive impact in the Hispanic community.
“Honoring tonight’s military service members sends out a positive message not only to the Latino community but to the entire country.” Molino said. “It shows us that this organization has the willingness to step forward and say we are proud of these honorees and the service they do for their country.”