MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
A driving force in the lives of many Hispanic-Marines is traditional family values. Values like honor, courage and commitment, instilled in candidates and recruits at Officer Candidate School and the two recruit depots, fall in line with values instilled in young Hispanic-Americans by their parents and families. Many Hispanic-Americans, eager to serve their country in an environment that holds those same values they learned at home in high esteem, have found a place in the Marine Corps.
“I think Hispanic-Americans are drawn to the Marine Corps because of the close-knit environment it provides,” said Lt. Col. Raphael Hernandez, assistant chief of staff G-3, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “The values of the Marine Corps are in line with those of the Hispanic community.”
Recognizing the shared values of the Marine Corps and Hispanic-Americans, Marine Corps Recruiting Command launched a multimedia campaign, “Values 2.0,” to honor Hispanic communities and families, as well as the 20,000 plus Marines on active duty that identify themselves as Hispanic. “Values 2.0” is a follow on to last year’s successful “Family Values” campaign.
Hernandez, born and raised in El Paso, Texas, is the son of immigrant parents originally from Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. If you ask him, he will tell you that he is an American of Mexican descent.
“I don’t refer to myself as Hispanic-American. I’m an American and I’m proud to be an American,” said Hernandez. “I’m proud of my Hispanic heritage, but I see myself as being an American first.”
Hernandez’s patriotism is not unique to just him. His extended family has a history of service to the United States.
“I’ve got a cousin who is a retired Marine gunnery sergeant and a nephew who just got out of the Marine Corps after serving four years,” said Hernandez. “The Marine Corps appeals to Hispanics because of the loyalty and sense of family that comes with being a Marine, as well as the opportunities to excel with hard work. I believe that Hispanics, as a group, are very patriotic. The large numbers of Hispanics joining the Marine Corps is proof of this.”
Hernandez, a graduate of the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) has been hard at work serving his country since he first attended OCS in Jan. 1993. Like many young Americans who make the decision to join the Marine Corps, Hernandez was looking for a way to serve his country and be challenged at the same time.
“I chose the Marine Corps because I wanted the challenge,” said Hernandez. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome any challenge the Marine Corps put in front of me. Most of all, I felt it was my duty as an American to serve my country.”
After conquering the rigors of OCS and The Basic School here, Hernandez entered the operating forces as a logistics officer. Before arriving at MCRC, he served with units such as III Marine Expeditionary Force, the Fourth Marine Corps District and the First Force Service Support Group to name a few. Taught the value of hard work early in his life by his parents, Hernandez’s dedication to his work and drive to conquer whatever challenges the Marine Corps throws his way has lead to his successful career as a Marine officer. Hernandez’s accomplishments include a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, two deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and multiple deployments on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
“My parents taught me that you have to work hard to move up in the world,” said Hernandez. “They instilled a sense of discipline and loyalty in me.”
As MCRC strives to reach the goal set by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to build a Corps that reflects the “face of the nation,” young men and women across the nation can look to Marines like Hernandez as proof that hard work, dedication and loyalty, traits that are the backbone of both Hispanic-American families and Marines of all backgrounds, beget success.
“People can look at the Marine Corps and see high ranking Hispanics throughout,” said Eric Lindsay, diversity advertising officer, MCRC. “I believe that shows that anyone, regardless of race, gender or ethnic background can achieve success in our Corps if they work hard enough.”
To view MCRC’s “Values 2.0” campaign celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and hear the stories of Hispanic-American Marines across the Corps, visit http://hispanicheritage.marines.com/ .