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AZANG celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Rachel Gomez (left) and Jacqui DuPont, from Tucson’s Ballet Folklorico Los Mextucaz, demonstrate Mexican folk dancing in the 162nd Fighter Wing Minuteman Courtyard, Oct. 3. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Rachel Gomez (left) and Jacqui DuPont, from Tucson’s Ballet Folklorico Los Mextucaz, demonstrate Mexican folk dancing in the 162nd Fighter Wing Minuteman Courtyard, Oct. 3. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Student musicians from Tucson’s Cholla High School perform mariachi music for Guardsmen in the 162nd Fighter Wing Minuteman Courtyard, Oct. 3. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Student musicians from Tucson’s Cholla High School perform mariachi music for Guardsmen in the 162nd Fighter Wing Minuteman Courtyard, Oct. 3. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Col. Jose Salinas, vice wing commander, thanks Cadet Julian Figueroa for assisting with the wing’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. Figueroa and fellow Desert View High School JROTC Honor Guard members presented the colors to kick off the event. Colonel Salinas also presented the students with a plaque to commemorate their contribution. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Col. Jose Salinas, vice wing commander, thanks Cadet Julian Figueroa for assisting with the wing’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. Figueroa and fellow Desert View High School JROTC Honor Guard members presented the colors to kick off the event. Colonel Salinas also presented the students with a plaque to commemorate their contribution. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

(From left to right) Col. Jose Salinas, vice wing commander, looks on while Staff Sgt. Robert Pensas, Master Sgt. Miguel Islas, and Senior Airman Ben Koughn present Mr. William Valenzuela a chromed plaque they constructed by hand. The plaque reads, “The 162nd recognizes Mr. William Valenzuela for his outstanding support of the military and their families. Your tireless efforts on behalf of our unit are a shining example of your patriotism and deep love for those who wear the uniform. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month we are proud to call you a true friend and compadre.” (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

(From left to right) Col. Jose Salinas, vice wing commander, looks on while Staff Sgt. Robert Pensas, Master Sgt. Miguel Islas, and Senior Airman Ben Koughn present Mr. William Valenzuela a chromed plaque they constructed by hand. The plaque reads, “The 162nd recognizes Mr. William Valenzuela for his outstanding support of the military and their families. Your tireless efforts on behalf of our unit are a shining example of your patriotism and deep love for those who wear the uniform. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month we are proud to call you a true friend and compadre.” (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Staff Sgt. Robert Pensas, Master Sgt. Miguel Islas, and Senior Airman Ben Koughn present a chromed plaque they constructed by hand to Mr. William Valenzuela. Using skills and knowledge gained from working in the wing’s metals shop, the Guardsmen constructed this memento in the shape of the state and included challenge coins from various units on base. “I used to be a machinist so this means more to me than you know,” said Valenzuela. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Staff Sgt. Robert Pensas, Master Sgt. Miguel Islas, and Senior Airman Ben Koughn present a chromed plaque they constructed by hand to Mr. William Valenzuela. Using skills and knowledge gained from working in the wing’s metals shop, the Guardsmen constructed this memento in the shape of the state and included challenge coins from various units on base. “I used to be a machinist so this means more to me than you know,” said Valenzuela. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The 162nd Fighter Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard observed National Hispanic Heritage Month through several events here Oct. 3 and 4.

Mr. Bill Valenzuela, a prominent businessman and community leader in Southern Arizona, spoke to Guardsmen Oct. 3 in the base auditorium about this month's theme, "Getting Involved: Our Families, Our Community, Our Nation." He specifically recognized the patriotism of Hispanic Americans during past wars and current conflicts.

Throughout American history, Hispanics have shown devotion to country in their military service. Hispanics have fought in every war since the birth of the nation and have taken a rightful place as heroes in U.S. history, said Valenzuela.

He's a veteran of the Korean War having served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Today he continues to serve the military as Arizona State Chair Emeri¬tus for the National Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Through ESGR, he promotes understanding and support between employers and their National Guard and Reserve member employees.

Valenzuela is also a valued member of the 162nd Fighter Wing Minuteman Committee, the unit's civic leader support organization.

"We continue to benefit from a rich Hispanic culture because of the talent and creativity of the many Hispanic Americans who have shaped our society. No one embodies those contributions in Arizona more than Bill Valenzuela," said Col. Jose Salinas, vice wing commander.

"Hispanics from all over the world serve in the armed forces with courage and honor, and their efforts are helping make America more secure and bringing freedom to people around the world," he said. "About 30 percent of our wing is made up of these great Americans."

In addition, Mexican folk dancers from Tucson's Ballet Folklorico Los Mextucaz, and a mariachi band from Cholla High School performed at numerous work sites on base Oct. 3 and 4 to help Guardsmen celebrate Hispanic culture.

National Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.