By Brigadier General Angela Salinas, USMC
Let me begin by thanking LATINA Style Magazine for the tremendous support of Latinas in the Military. I know of no other publication that embraces and recognizes the service of women in uniform in this manner. This issue celebrates the 2009 LATINA Style Distinguished Service Awardees, individuals representing their respective services, officer, enlisted and civilian. Congratulations to each of them! They should be commended not only for their recognition of this prestigious award, but for their service to our Country.
I was the recipient of the Anna Maria Arias Meritorious Service Award several years ago. The leadership of LATINA Style has been nothing but a friend and advocate for all Latinas, but especially for those who serve. Armed with a passion to tell “our” story, the magazine unselfishly provides precious limited space allowing stories to be told from the heart and attempt to bring to the reader, what it means to serve our country.
I am one of those privileged few who wear the cloth of my nation. I have been honored extensively by many since my selection to the general officer ranks and I am humbled by the attention I receive. I recognize it is for wearing a uniform that represents our fight to protect the freedoms we have enjoyed for over 234 years. I have served for more than 35 years joining the rank and file when there were fewer than 2000 women Marines among more than 200,000 Marines. I know I follow in the footsteps of Latinas who went before; Latinas like Gunnery Sergeant Gonzalez, a Drill Instructor at Woman Recruit Training Command (WRTC) in 1974 when I was a recruit and Lieutenant Colonel Dolores Gresham from San Antonio, Texas who worked at Quantico, VA in 1978 when I was a brand new Second Lieutenant attending The Basic School. There are many whose names I may never know but who went before to make the path a little easier for someone like me. I remember because I so wanted to be like them but knew little of their stories. For 35 years, I have seen many come and go and I am proud to say today, young Latinas serve with distinction earning the right to serve along side their male counterparts.
NOTE: On August 2, 2006, Brigadier General Angela Salinas became the first Hispanic female to become a United States Marine Corps general officer, and the sixth female in the Marine Corps to reach the rank of Brigadier General. On August 4, 2006, General Salinas became the first woman to command the Marine Corps Recruit Depot/Western Recruiting Region in San Diego, CA. Her current assignment is Director, Manpower Management, Manpower & Reserve Affairs in Quantico, VA.