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General Marquez discusses Hispanic importance, heritage

Retired Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez speaks to Team Edwards during the National Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon at Club Muroc, Sept. 28, 2006. General Marquez provided his insights on the importance of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month  (Photo by Airman Stacy Garcia)

Retired Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez speaks to Team Edwards during the National Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon at Club Muroc, Sept. 28, 2006. General Marquez provided his insights on the importance of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (Photo by Airman Stacy Garcia)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Guest speaker, retired Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month with Team Edwards in a luncheon at Club Muroc on Sept. 28.

The luncheon was to celebrate the various independence days of Latin American countries. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate their independence day Oct. 15, while Mexico's Independence Day is Sept. 16.

The event was highlighted with General Marquez's speech about the importance of National Hispanic Month.

The event began with a National Anthem rendition by Alyssa Rossi, a Desert High School student.

Col. H. Brent Baker Sr., 95th Air Base Wing commander, reiterated the importance of National Hispanic Month and spoke about General Marquez and his accomplishments.

"General Marquez is considered one of the foremost knowledgeable experts on logistics and is considered the 'father of modern day Air Force logistics,'" Colonel Baker said.

The retired general's speech included the importance of Hispanics in the military and society.

"It is very important to recognize Hispanics of their contribution they've made to America," said General Marquez. "I want to refresh people's memory and teach them of how far along we have come."

General Marquez said he remembers when he first joined the military and how the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage only lasted a week.

"Now we get a whole month to celebrate our independence and to celebrate all the good things that we've done over the years," he said.

General Marquez provided some advice to Hispanic Airmen at Edwards.

"Work hard and do your job to the best of your abilities," General Marquez said. "Don't walk around looking for favors; you have to earn your own way. You need to develop your own skills and capabilities."

General Marquez also said he was very proud of Hispanic Airmen.

"The luncheon was a success," said Rafael Avina, Hispanic Heritage Month committee chairman. "We hope that everyone was motivated by General Marquez's words. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our Airmen to hear him speak."

Each heritage month observance is a chance for people to learn about the cultures they may not be familiar with, said Johnny Anthony, Hispanic Employment Manager.

"Hopefully, people who attend these events leave with a better understanding of another culture," said Yolanda Martinez, Hispanic Employment co-manager.

Born in Peralta, Mexico in 1932, General Marquez retired from the Air Force in 1987 as Deputy Chief of Staff for logistics and engineering Headquarters Air Force in Washington, D.C. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with an oak leaf cluster and the Bronze Star.

An award named after General Marquez is presented to maintainers who have demonstrated the highest degree of sustained job performance, job knowledge, job efficiency and results in the categories of aircraft, munitions and missile, and communications-electronics maintenance.

General Marquez earned his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officer's Training Corps program upon graduation from New Mexico State University and entered active duty as a second lieutenant in November 1954. He served for nearly 33 years before retiring in 1987.