The USMC Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Americans in the United States Marine Corps
Please join the National Museum of the Marine Corps in celebrating all the contributions of Hispanic Marines have made and continue to make to the nation and the United States Marine Corps.
“Hispanic Americans - A History of Serving Our Nation.”
Among our Nation’s Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH) recipients, there are thirteen Hispanic Marines; eleven enlisted and two officers. Colonel Jay R. Vargas, USMC (Ret.) (Arizona) is the second commissioned officer of Hispanic descent to receive the MOH for his actions while serving as a Captain with Company G, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade at Dai Do, Republic of Vietnam. Colonel Vargas retired from active duty in 1993 and accepted appointment as Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. He served as Veterans’ Liaison for the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs from 2001 to 2009, and he continues to advocate for veterans’ welfare causes.
Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Sergeant Rafael Peralta (1979-2004) (California) joined the Marine Corps immediately after receiving his green card in 2000, and he was naturalized an American citizen during his military service. He deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom as a scout team leader with 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Sergeant Peralta was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his selfless actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah when he received multiple wounds and ultimately absorbed the blast of a grenade to save his Marines. An Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, The U.S.S. Rafael Peralta (DDG-115), was named in honor of Sergeant Peralta. The ship’s motto is Fortis Ad Finem (“Courageous to the End”).
LtGen Pedro A. del Valle (Puerto Rico) is acknowledged as the first Hispanic Marine Corps Lieutenant General. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1893, he later graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1915. In 1931, Major del Valle was one of three Marine majors who began drafting the “Tentative Manual for Landing Operations,” which became the foundation for Marine amphibious operations in the WWII Pacific Theater. During WWII in 1942, Colonel del Valle commanded the 11th Marine Artillery Regiment with 1st Marine Division at Guadalcanal. In 1945, MajGen del Valle was the CG, 1st Marine Division during the Battle of Okinawa, and for his leadership during and after the battle, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Today, the Marine Corps offers the Pedro del Valle Leadership Scholarship in his honor.
Learn more about the Marine Corps’ Hispanic heritage displayed in the Museum, by visiting these exhibits’ WWII “U.S. Marines in Europe” and “Battle of Okinawa”, Korea “1946-1953 Inchon/Seoul”, and the “Medal of Honor Wall”.
Plan Your Visit!
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Museum is hosting a docent-led hour-long tour given in Spanish. The tour is limited to 20 visitors. Admission to the Museum and parking are always FREE!
Please see our Calendar of Events for dates and more details.
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Admission and parking are FREE. Hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day, except Christmas Day.
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