Airman commemorates Hispanic-American heroes

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rolando Gudiel
  • 95th Aerospace Medical Squadron
As Airmen, we are a part of the greatest air power on Earth as well as the strongest warrior nation in the modern-day world. Each and every one of us has the heart of a warrior and we are all "faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor." 

Warriors of all backgrounds and origins created that proud heritage that exists today through decades and centuries of valiant servitude to our nation including Hispanic-Americans. Below are stories of amazing Hispanic-Americans who have exemplified everything an American warrior should be. 

Navy Admiral David Glasgow Farragut was the first person to have earned the ranks of rear admiral, vice admiral and full admiral of the Navy. He served during the U.S. Civil War for the Union and is perhaps best remembered for his famous paraphrased order of "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" 

Admiral Farragut was victorious in the great Battle of Mobile Bay on Aug. 5, 1864. Mobile was the location of the Confederacy's last main port that was open on the Gulf of Mexico. The bay contained an overwhelming amount of mines. Despite this obstacle, the admiral ordered his fleet to charge the bay. 

However, the monitor U.S.S. Tecumseh sank when it hit a mine. Through his flagship, the U.S.S. Hartford, from his high perch, the admiral saw the other ships began to pull back and retreat in response to the sunken ship. 

Through a trumpet, the admiral questioned the U.S.S. Brooklyn as to what the problem was. The response he received was, "Torpedoes!" Mines were called "torpedoes" during the Civil War.

It was then that Admiral Farragut issued his famous order: "Damn the torpedoes! Four bells. Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!" 

With their admiral's bold order, the bulk of the fleet succeeded in entering the bay and defeating the forces to gain a huge victory for the Union in the Battle of Mobile Bay. 

The honor of first Hispanic-American flying ace belongs to Capt. Manuel J. Fernandez Jr. He was the number three ace of the Korean War. 

Captain Fernandez is credited with flying 124 combat missions with 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing and shooting down 14 and a half MiG aircraft during his tour of duty that lasted from September 1952 to May 1953. 

Captain Fernandez also became an honorary member of Great Britain's Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his valiant actions of flying a C-47 Skytrain in the Berlin Lift in 1948. In 1956, he was awarded the Bendix Trophy in recognition of setting a record when he flew the F100C Super Sabre from George Air Force Base, Calif., to Tinker AFB, Okla., at an average speed of 666.61 mph. 

Let us not forget the sacrifices of yesterday's warriors. It is through the actions of tremendous warriors such as these Hispanic-Americans that a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor for our nation was born and sustained. Whether a person is Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force; white, black, Hispanic or Asian, every one should be proud of the uniform and heritage for which these men fought so hard.