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SCANG celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- "Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work and service. They are doctors and lawyers, activists and educators, entrepreneurs and public servants and brave service members who defend our way of life at home and abroad." -Presidential Proclamation - National Hispanic Heritage Month 2011.

Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15, celebrating the independence of five Latin American countries - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared independence Sept. 16 and Chile Sept. 18.

The term Hispanic or Latino, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. According to the 2010 Census, 16 percent of the population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. And nearly 11 percent of those serving in the armed forces are of Hispanic origin.

The SCANG currently has a large population of proud Hispanic-Americans working throughout the base. One example, Tech. Sgt. Jose Peraza from the 169th MXS/Pod Shop, born in El Salvador, completed eight years of active duty in the Marine Corps and decided it was time for a change. He joined the District of Columbia Air National Guard in 2005, then met his future wife Perri, who is a member of the 169th Medical Group, while at technical school.

Peraza says the his best experience so far with the SCANG was traveling with the 169th MDG to Puerto Rico on a humanitarian mission, fulfilling the role as a translator between the SCANG medics and the Puerto Rican nationals. Peraza and the other members of SCANG with a Hispanic heritage, continue to serve proudly and contribute greatly to the SCANG.