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SURFOR Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Elena Velazquez

SAN DIEGO – Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR) staff and civilian employees honored Hispanic Heritage Month with a celebration held at SURFOR headquarters Oct. 15.

Navy Rear Adm. (Retired) Jose Luis Betancourt, a Hispanic Navy leader, was invited as the guest speaker. He focused on a timeline of Hispanics in the Navy and how their roles as Sailors have grown.

“I believe we live in the greatest country on earth, with all our weaknesses we are still the best country to live in, and this country offers to people like me and you, wonderful opportunities,” said Betancourt.

SURFOR’s Hispanic Heritage Committee organized dancers who performed various dances such as the Salsa, Cumbia, and Bachata. The performers are members of the committee and used their lunch breaks over the past few weeks to practice their steps.
“This style of dancing was very different for me. The beat is definitely faster than what I’m used to,” said Yeoman 2nd Class (AW) Tashana Crum. “I really enjoyed it and when my husband comes back from deployment I’m going to have him in a dancing class so that we can learn more together.”

There was also a special appearance from San Diego’s Olympian High School’s mariachi band. Seven high school students, wearing the traditional gala, performed the song “El Relampago.” 

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“It was great to bring the kids out and provide a service to the community,” said Fredd Sanchez, Olympian High School’s mariachi band teacher. “I feel like it helped the kids connect to a different aspect that they don’t normally get to see, and they learned more about their country and our service men and women.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the committee had a collection of food for the attendants with nine entrées that included carne asada tacos, enchiladas, roasted pork leg, and tamales. The guest waited their turn to be served by a committee member.
“There was so much food and it was all very delicious,” said Lt. j. g. Katherine Bland. “The celebration was wonderful and it was a great opportunity for the staff to come together and honor the diversity of the Navy and all the great things each diverse group offers to our country and Navy.”

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