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Hispanic Heritage Month takes flight

Air Force members stand in front of aircraft

Team Offutt members pose for a photo outside of a RC-135 aircraft prior to a training flight featuring 10 Hispanic or Latinx aircrew members in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of reflection for American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It allows not only Hispanics or Latinxs but all Americans to celebrate their histories, cultures and contributions.(U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)

Female Air Force Captain cleans her oxygen mask.

Capt. Amparo Romero Otiz, 338th Combat Training Squadron, cleans her oxygen mask before departure October 14, 2020, during the flight honoring Hispanic Heritage Month. President Ronald Regan established Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month Aug. 17, 1988. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb --

Members of Team Offutt conducted a training flight featuring 10 Hispanic or Latinx aircrew members in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month Oct. 14, 2020.

Originally Hispanic Heritage Week established by President Lyndon B. Johnson would change Aug. 17, 1988, under Ronald Reagan’s presidency to be observed for 30 days from Sept. 15 and ending Oct. 15.

“I wanted to set something up for the Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Sanchez, 338th Combat Training Squadron scheduling flight chief. “It was something that I was part of at a previous base, however, we never really done it as a flight here at the wing and I wanted to see how much participating I could get from my fellow members within the 55th Wing.”

Sanchez received support through a collaborative effort from the 55th Maintenance Group who allowed them to use an RC-135 aircraft for the flight, to Wing Scheduling, just to name a few organizations. Although Sanchez did receive help from various groups, he did run into a hindrance.

“Some of the biggest roadblocks was getting the people,” Sanchez said. "It was a little hard finding different cultures and different backgrounds here and I wanted to find as much variety as I could within the wing.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of reflection for American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It allows not only Hispanics or Latinxs but all Americans to celebrate their histories, cultures and contributions.

“We have a key role in today’s story,” said Tech. Sgt. Estefany Ortiz-Hoban, 97th Intelligence Squadron integration section chief. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, you are important to the mission.”

Felix Rigau Carrera, born in Puerto Rico, joined the Aviation Section of the United States Signal Corps during World War I as a paratrooper and pilot in the Marines. Major Marisol A. Chalas, born and raised in the Dominican Republic, was the first Latina National Guard Black Hawk pilot in the Army National Guard. As of January 2020, Hispanic or Latinos make up 15.2% of the Air Force. 

“We come from different types of backgrounds and we all have different stories of how our parents or ancestors got here,” Sanchez said. “The importance for me for today’s flight is to showcase the wing and also the Air Force, that there is a lot of Latinos that do serve in the United States Air Force.”