October 2001/November 2001
Minority Affairs Committee Report
All Proud Americans
By Francisco F. Ivarra, Chair
The Minority Affairs Committee met on Friday and Saturday
during the October 9-13 VVA Board of Directors meeting in Silver
Spring, Maryland. We have some outstanding and impressive members
who are strongly committed to guiding the future success of this
committee. Fara Sanchez has been appointed Vice Chair and Ed Chow
will serve as Special Assistant to the Committee. Subcommittees
have been established to research the history of the committee; to
define the current role of this committee; to develop the
meaningful goals and objectives of the committee; and to implement
the ways and means to remain a viable and visible committee.
We also plan to offer historical footnotes on the contributions
made by minority veterans during times of war and peace. I would
like to provide the following footnotes about Hispanic Americans:
"Since our nation’s founding, Hispanic Americans have played an
integral role in our country’s exceptional story of success.
Hispanic Americans served with heroism in every major American
military conflict," President G.W. Bush, October 2, 2001.
During the Vietnam War, one in two Hispanics who went to
Vietnam served in a combat unit, one in three was wounded in
action, and one in five was killed in action.
The first Hispanic awarded the Medal of Honor was John Ortega,
Civil War, January 1865.
The last Hispanic awarded the Medal of Honor was Alfred Rascon,
Vietnam War, February 2000.
Fourteen Hispanics were awarded the Medal of Honor in the
The first POW in Vietnam was Sgt. First Class Isaac Camacho,
captured November 22, 1963. He was also the first POW to escape
captivity during the Vietnam War.
The last solider to leave the U.S. Embassy in Saigon was Master
Sgt. Juan J. Valdez, April 30, 1975.
According to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study,
among those experiencing high war-zone stressor exposure, there is
a 34 percent rate of PTSD among whites, 38.2 percent PTSD among
blacks, and 48.4 percent among Hispanics. The severity of
adjustment problems has been found to correlate with the amount of
The 65th Puerto Rican Infantry Regiment served during the
Korean War (1950-53) and was awarded 134 Silver Stars, 562 Bronze
Stars, and 8 Distinguished Service Crosses, a Presidential Unit
Citation, a Meritorious Unit Commendation and two Republic of
Korea Unit Citations.
"Hero Street USA" in Silvis, Illinois, was only one and a half
blocks long and was home to 22 Mexican families and had 84 men
serve in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Thirteen of these men were from
the two Sandoval families, three of whom were killed in action.
There is no question that Hero Street stands alone in American
As Hispanics, we are proud of who we are and whom we represent.
Names like Molina, Sanchez, and Benavidez do not make us
different, but do give us an identity. This identity is unique and
deniable, but the one undeniable fact is that we are all proud
Americans. Our common bond is that we are veterans of war who have
fought or served to preserve our freedom. It is this freedom that
gives me the privilege and honor to say, "Welcome home York,
Sakuma and Rodriguez."