24th MEU (SOC) Marines remember Hispanic Heritage Month: Photo Essay

19 Oct 2002 | Cpl. Jeff Sisto

From September 15th to October 15th millions of Americans celebrated Hispanic Heritage month. During this time, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) was in Kosovo, participating in Dynamic Response 2002.Recently, the MEU's Hispanic Marines were able to reflect on how they spent this month, and how it was different from previous years.As a personnel clerk, Lance Cpl. Carlos Rubio, 20, from San Diego, Calif., takes care of all the pay and entitlements and unit diary entries for the Aviation Combat Element.Born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Rubio recalled a ritual his father practices this month every year."Every year during this time, my father goes to Sinaloa, Mexico to visit my grandfather's gravesite. My thoughts are with him now."Rubio's favorite part of his time in Kosovo was "all the people he met while visiting a village outside of Prizren."Cpl. Jose Chalarca, 22, from Englewood, N.J., is a cook with the Command Element.While in Kosovo, Chalarca worked alongside his German counterparts, cooking for everyone at Blue Residence, the MEU's headquarters.Born and raised in Cali, Columbia, Chalarca found many ways to continue to celebrate his culture in N.J."There are so many Columbian parades and festivals in New Jersey and New York during this month. I miss all the dances and Spanish music."His favorite part of the operation was "hanging out with the German Soldiers on Saturday nights after work at the Sunshine cappuccino bar."Lance Cpl. Ruben Ramirez, 20, from Garland, TX, is a Motor Transportation Operator with the MEU Service Support Group 24. From Camp Casablanca, Ramirez spent the majority of his time in Kosovo driving trucks to the different bases, delivering and picking up supplies and troops.His favorite part of the operation was "heading to Camp Bondsteel and being able to use the PX and phones."From Mexican descent, Ramirez misses his family and community. "During this time we are always having a big family reunion and parties every week."Lance Cpl. Israel Martinez, 20, from Houston, TX, is a machine gunner with Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2/2.Born and raised in Mexico, Martinez says his family takes pride in celebrating Hispanic heritage month by "having dinner at the house with the whole family."During the Operation in Kosovo, Martinez patrolled in the high mountain regions along the Albanian border, enduring harsh weather and rough terrain while looking for any illegal activity.His favorite memory from Kosovo was, sharing a fox dinner with his squad leader.