By Spc. Fabian Ortega
13th Sustainment Command
The 180th Transportation Battalion, 13th Sustainment Command, hosted a National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Friday at Howze Auditorium.
The two-hour celebration included speaker Sandra Thomason, chairwoman of the Central Texas College Department of Nursing, food sampling from local Hispanic restaurants and a Hispanic dance troupe that performed various Mexican and Spanish dances.
Thomason, a San Antonio native and retired U.S. Army major, shared the story of Sotero Segura, an unassuming 19-year-old Hispanic soldier who served in World War II, during her address.
“According to the World War II museum, between 150,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the armed forces during World War II,” Thomason said. “Yet that number is still unknown because at the time Hispanics were counted as whites.”
Mexican-Americans who served in World War II need to reveal their stories so that they can become a part of recorded history, Thomason said to a responsive audience.
“It is important to document their accomplishments and their involvement for future generations,” Thomason said.
During her reading, Thomason depicted the life of Segura as a young soldier in the Nurse Corps serving in the Western theater during World War II and read excerpts from Segura’s diaries.
In a journal entry, Segura described basic training and being sent to the Western theater, eventually setting foot on one of the most storied battlegrounds.
“He landed in Normandy, France, 12 June, six days after D-day, it was devastating scene, and the initial battle had already taken place,” Thomason described. “The evidence of destruction could be seen all over the beaches.”
Segura would later go on to participate in the Battle of the Bulge under the command of Lt.Gen. George S. Patton, a battle that resulted in more than 80,000 American casualties, Thomason said.
It was later that Thomason revealed that Segura was her father.
“I am the proud benefactor of my father Sotero Segura’s legacy,” Thomason said.
Following Thomason’s address, the Hispanic dance troupe Multi-Ethnic Cultural and Arts Association Ballet Folklorico de Colores performed traditional Mexican and Spanish dances.
Ballet Folklorico is an artistic dance depiction of Mexico with fancy footwork, kaleidoscopic color and the occasional flying machete. It’s an energetic melding of “Stomp” and “Riverdance” with a unique Mexican flair.
The dance form originated centuries ago and is based on a simple and age-old premise: young love and the thrill of the chase. The dance troupe displayed that masterfully on the Howze Auditorium stage. The troupe also performed a Flamenco dance routine, one of the more difficult dance numbers.
After the dance performance, Lt. Col. Mark A. Paget, 180th Transportation Battalion commander, expressed the importance of observing and celebrating cultural diversity.
“It’s great to be supporting this occasion,” Paget said. “We’re here in Texas and we’re celebrating Hispanic heritage today,” he said. “There are 45 million Hispanics in the United States of America, the fastest growing segment of our population and the fastest growing segment of the U.S. Army.”
Recently, Fort Hood’s III Corps Headquarters set up a Hispanic Medal of Honor display recognizing all the Hispanic Medal of Honor winners.