LOOKING BACK TO SEE THE FUTURE.
A Historical Perspective on Hispanic American Naval Service.
By Rear Adm. Christina “Tina” Alvarado, SHCE, U.S. Navy.
“As we look forward to the new year, I think it’s important for us to look back on the rich history that has led us to where we are today in our U.S. Navy.”
Hispanic Americans have always stood ready to answer the Nation’s call and in so doing, have contributed to the success of our Armed Forces in the wars and conflicts that have defined our nation. Despite challenges, people of Hispanic or Latino descent have never backed away from the call to serve their country, and some have left a permanent mark on naval history, while paving the way for those of us who follow.
Our country has honored the significant contributions of these brave Hispanic Americans. There have been nine ships named after Hispanic Americans and between the Navy and Marine Corps, 15 Hispanic Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice and earned the Medal of Honor. Their stories amaze and inspire.
Such selfless service of Hispanic Americans throughout history only serves to intensify my pride in my cultural heritage and invigorates me to challenge our next generation of Hispanic service members to exceed all expectations.
Today’s Hispanic Americans continue a tradition of service. More than 17 percent of the Navy’s enlisted force identified as Hispanic American in 2017. Eight percent of the officer corps identify as the same. Hispanic Americans serve in every rank from seaman to admiral, and hold nearly every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver.
During this time of reflection and remembrance let’s recognize and respect the trail blazed by the men and women who came before us. Their groundwork helped provide the many opportunities we have today, just as our efforts will affect future generations.
Being a Navy leader is a huge honor and I am grateful for the opportunity to mentor many of our top notch young sailors. Recently, while performing a Command site visit, a young Hispanic Nurse Corps lieutenant pulled me aside and said, “Admiral, you are such an inspiration to Latina American women. You make all my dreams seem possible.” When the going gets tough, I think of her bright, enthusiastic face and it makes me want to work harder. That lieutenant and others like her are the reason I love my job. I hope in some small way I am paving the way and removing obstacles for those dreams to come true.
Today there are numerous success stories of Hispanic Americans in the U.S. Navy and across our Armed Forces. Hispanic Americans proudly serve our nation at sea, under the sea, in the air, on land and in cyber space. According to our Navy Historian I am the first Navy nurse of Hispanic origin to achieve the rank of Rear Admiral. I look forward to a future of no more “firsts,” when a Latino or Latina has had the chance to perform and excel in every position our Armed Forces has to offer. Our rich past ensures that our future is very bright.
Rear Adm. Christina Alvarado, SHCE, USN is Deputy Chief, Bureau of Medicine & Surgery Reserve Policy and Integration. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, she is a registered nurse and graduate of the Alexandria Hospital School of Nursing, Alexandria, Virginia, Columbia University School of Nursing, New York, and holds a master of health care administration from the University of North Carolina, School of Public Health. She has worked in the clinical areas of orthopedics, neurosurgery and intensive care.