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<v Narrator>This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Victoria <v Narrator>Foundation. <v Mauricio Gerson>Saludos y bienvenidos a Imagenes. Soy Mauricio Gerson. Soy anfitrion. <v Mauricio Gerson>In this program w'ell pay tribute to veterans of war.
<v Mauricio Gerson>We'll highlight Hispanic veterans still active in the military. <v Mauricio Gerson>We'll discuss issues affecting Vietnam veterans. <v Mauricio Gerson>And we'll share with you a touching story, the making of a hero. <v Commandant Alvarez>I was born in New York City of Puerto Rican parents. <v Commandant Alvarez>Mom was from San German and Dad was from Sabana Grande and <v Commandant Alvarez>grew up in New York City public school system. <v Commandant Alvarez>One day decided to find out about the Air Force I was about 19 and a half. <v Commandant Alvarez>And I just went down a Whitehull Street and said, I'm interested in
<v Commandant Alvarez>speaking to someone about the Air Force. <v Commandant Alvarez>And a very nice young man came up and said, See me? <v Commandant Alvarez>And the next thing I knew, I was raising my hand. <v Commandant Alvarez>I was sworn in. So been in the Air Force for over <v Commandant Alvarez>30 years. It's been good. <v Commandant Alvarez>Primarily, my job has been communications and maintenance. <v Commandant Alvarez>I spent quite a few years overseas and currently <v Commandant Alvarez>for the last nine years, I've been in professional military education for enlisted <v Commandant Alvarez>people. My job right now is commandant of the MAC <v Commandant Alvarez>NCO Academy. <v Commandant Alvarez>And that means that as commandant, I have the responsibility of <v Commandant Alvarez>the day to day operation of 120 students plus the faculty <v Commandant Alvarez>and staff here. We have a six week in residency school. <v Commandant Alvarez>We prepare them to see areas of greater responsibility. <v Commandant Alvarez>We are very heavy into leadership and management, communicative skills, <v Commandant Alvarez>military studies and political science.
<v Commandant Alvarez>And it doesn't necessarily have to do with their job. <v Commandant Alvarez>It's to make them better managers and leaders in the Air Force. <v Commandant Alvarez>The participation of Hispanics that we have in <v Commandant Alvarez>professional military education, as I see it, is not very high, <v Commandant Alvarez>is not very high at all. <v Commandant Alvarez>It's we have certainly Hispanic students that come through. <v Commandant Alvarez>And if we have let us say 3 percent of the Air Force population being Hispanic, <v Commandant Alvarez>we probably have 3 percent of students <v Commandant Alvarez>that come through that are Hispanic. <v Commandant Alvarez>But on the management side of the house, that is instructors, <v Commandant Alvarez>commandants as I see it, we don't have very many at all. <v Commandant Alvarez>As far as I know, I'm the only Hispanic commandant to have a school <v Commandant Alvarez>in the Air Force today. <v Commandant Alvarez>That doesn't say they should run out and get 3 or 4. <v Commandant Alvarez>But I think it puts it in perspective as to how rare that is. <v Commandant Alvarez>Commodities on our staff here have we have one other Hispanic doing
<v Commandant Alvarez>a super job for us, a really smart fellow. <v Commandant Alvarez>But as I go out to conferences and I travel extensively throughout the United States <v Commandant Alvarez>and overseas and I get into the conferences of the education business with that people, <v Commandant Alvarez>I just don't see that many Spanish folks <v Commandant Alvarez>out there. <v Mauricio Gerson>As a Hispanic what has been your experience in the military since you first started <v Mauricio Gerson>in the Air Force, you know, because of your looks, I'm sure that a lot of people wouldn't <v Mauricio Gerson>know, except maybe for the last name, that you might be of Hispanic heritage. <v Commandant Alvarez>Well, today it's no big deal, as <v Commandant Alvarez>it was perhaps in 1955 and '58. <v Commandant Alvarez>The Air Force I have to say, has been very good to me and to <v Commandant Alvarez>Hispanics in the sense that there's room for upward mobility <v Commandant Alvarez>based on your ability, rather on what you look likw or what your last name happens to be. <v Commandant Alvarez>The Air Force has encouraged me and everyone else it seems like from day one
<v Commandant Alvarez>to get an education. <v Commandant Alvarez>They have various programs. <v Commandant Alvarez>I availed myself what they call tuition assistance, where they pay 75 percent of the <v Commandant Alvarez>tuition. I put in 25 percent. <v Commandant Alvarez>And I've been fortunate enough to get both a bachelor's degree and <v Commandant Alvarez>a master's degree while in the Air Force <v Commandant Alvarez>and encouraged the whole time I was doing it by the senior leadership. <v Commandant Alvarez>?inaudible? well when do you graduate? <v student>Couple of weeks. <v Commandant Alvarez>Next week. <v student>Right. <v Commandant Alvarez>All right. okay I'll try to make it to graduation, alright? <v student>Thank you. <v Commandant Alvarez>Have a good day, my friend. <v student>You, too. <v Commandant Alvarez>I feel very gratified of being Spanish, I'm very proud of my heritage. <v Commandant Alvarez>And in the home, we had Spanish and las costumbres, <v Commandant Alvarez>Latino. And because of that, I believe that <v Commandant Alvarez>it has afforded me the opportunity that when I went overseas <v Commandant Alvarez>and had to live on the economy with other cultures,
<v Commandant Alvarez>that that has certainly helped back and forth. <v Commandant Alvarez>When you live in a Spanish community, <v Commandant Alvarez>you're very sensitive and respect the rights and <v Commandant Alvarez>the ideas of others. And I think that has held me in good stead. <v Commandant Alvarez>Being overseas and getting to meet people that are a little different than me <v Commandant Alvarez>think differently from me. And I think that's helped. <v Mauricio Gerson>What can we expect from you in the future, I know that you'll be retiring soon? <v Commandant Alvarez>Well, I certainly hope to be able to transfer my <v Commandant Alvarez>experience that I have as a manager <v Commandant Alvarez>into the civilian sector. <v Commandant Alvarez>And I would like to continue to get into training. <v Commandant Alvarez>Some sort of training or perhaps even to teach. <v Mauricio Gerson>We visited the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard where we talked to Sergeant Luis Munoz <v Mauricio Gerson>of the U.S. Marine Corps. <v Mauricio Gerson>Where are you from originally?
<v Luis Munoz>Ponce, Puerto Rico. And New York City. <v Mauricio Gerson>How did you get involved with the Marine Corps? <v Luis Munoz>Well, back in New York, when I was turned 17 years old, my friends were <v Luis Munoz>joining the Marines. So I followed behind them and I joined at 17 and <v Luis Munoz>a half. I was in the Marine Corps 5, 5 and a half years when <v Luis Munoz>the problems in Vietnam broke out. <v Luis Munoz>And when they first broke out, I was in Okinawa. <v Luis Munoz>So one of the first Marines that went over there and I <v Luis Munoz>spent 6 months and I came back to the states and <v Luis Munoz>went back for another tour in 1966, at which time <v Luis Munoz>I was wounded and medevaced, went back to the states. <v Luis Munoz>And I came back for about a couple of years and went back again in 1969 <v Luis Munoz>and when I went back in '69 I went back as an interrogator translator, <v Luis Munoz>which is humorous for a Spanish P.O.W. <v Luis Munoz>interrogator in Vietnam, it's kind of hard.
<v Luis Munoz>But we handled it OK. <v Luis Munoz>But one problem that I saw is that we during Vietnam, <v Luis Munoz>the Marine Corps, the Army and ?inaudible? They drafted. <v Luis Munoz>So we had a lot of Hispanics in Puerto Rico who were in the Marine Corps <v Luis Munoz>in a, quote, American atmosphere, English speaking, who didn't <v Luis Munoz>speak any English at all, which was a problem. <v Luis Munoz>So I always ended up a lot of times interpreting for them well, whatever <v Luis Munoz>problems they would have with their company, either disciplinary or personal <v Luis Munoz>problems. So that bothered me because, you know, you always felt that, you know, if <v Luis Munoz>you're going to go out fighting a war and it's bad enough, you fight a war and not even <v Luis Munoz>be able to speak English. <v Luis Munoz>But, you know, they adjusted we had some a lot of them that were killed that I know <v Luis Munoz>of. But that would be the big problem. <v Luis Munoz>Well, I mean, there's always humor. You know, I think my humorous point was when, <v Luis Munoz>being Puerto Rican, you know, in trigueno they would thought I <v Luis Munoz>was the biggest Vietnamese in Vietnam. The color didn't make a difference.
<v Luis Munoz>You know, you had to survive. <v Luis Munoz>And so, you know, blood is blood is red and that make a different specialty <v Luis Munoz>out there. <v Mauricio Gerson>What are your current duties? <v Luis Munoz>Right now? I'm I work for the naval shipyard as a supervisor, <v Luis Munoz>employee relations specialists. <v Mauricio Gerson>What is the benefit of having somebody like you in that specific job in personnel and <v Mauricio Gerson>recruiting? <v Luis Munoz>I'm aware of the different programs available to veterans. <v Luis Munoz>And especially in supply. I know what areas were short as far as Hispanic representation. <v Luis Munoz>So being aware of these things, I can make sure that when we get <v Luis Munoz>applications that we consider the Hispanics, <v Luis Munoz>especially veterans. <v Mauricio Gerson>If there was a message you wanted to convey to the youth, those who are 17 <v Mauricio Gerson>year old like you, were 23 years ago, what would that message be? <v Luis Munoz>That I hope to have someone who would first tell them to stay in school, okay. <v Luis Munoz>Get your high school diploma. <v Luis Munoz>And if you want to go in the service, then join.
<v Luis Munoz>But go with the idea that you want to make something of yourself. <v Luis Munoz>Don't go just because your friends are going. <v Luis Munoz>Go because of the opportunity to learn something. <v Luis Munoz>There's a lot of areas, a lot of fields available both to men and women now. <v Luis Munoz>So go with the understanding that, you know, I want to make something myself and whatever <v Luis Munoz>happens will happen. <v Mauricio Gerson>What is the advantage of joining the military service? <v Sergeant Gonzalez>Well, a lot of people you've got different reasons. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>A lot of does have to do with the situation in the outside job wise. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>Other people come in because there are certain benefits that you acquire when you're in <v Sergeant Gonzalez>the service. One, you serve the country, you also get your reimbursement <v Sergeant Gonzalez>on the benefits side. A lot of them come in to enhance their civilian education while <v Sergeant Gonzalez>in service. At the same time, you do have the experience and you've got the training <v Sergeant Gonzalez>in certain fields that you can utilize in the outside. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>So it's the rarest of reasons, but a lot of them do come in because it's an opportunity <v Sergeant Gonzalez>to enhance the civilian education. <v Mauricio Gerson>And what made you turn into the military? <v Sergeant Gonzalez>Well, initially I was drafted in the old days and I decided to stay
<v Sergeant Gonzalez>then because I liked the military and looked at it as an opportunity to enhance my <v Sergeant Gonzalez>education at the time. And I enjoy being in here. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>So to me, it was something that I really sort of grew up in my blood. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>So I'm here and I've been in for the last 18 years. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>The Hispanics have always been ready <v Sergeant Gonzalez>to go and have done the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the nation. <v Mauricio Gerson>The first marine to die in Lebanon was a Puerto Rican from Rochester, New York. <v Mauricio Gerson>How do you feel about that? <v Sergeant Gonzalez>Well, I'm quite sure that did happen in Lebanon, and I'm quite sure it also happened in <v Sergeant Gonzalez>Korea. And to me, as a Hispanic, as a soldier, it makes me feel <v Sergeant Gonzalez>proud of him. Will always remember was when I went to Vietnam. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>When you're in combat, for reasons unknown to was, you know, we get <v Sergeant Gonzalez>close to what people with our friends. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>And it's really painful lots of times, you know, emotionally when a friend of yours
<v Sergeant Gonzalez>goes out to the field and says, I'll see you later and the unit returns and <v Sergeant Gonzalez>you look for your friend and our friend is not there. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>They either have been injured or killed. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>It is something that takes a while to overcome, you know, and you make some good <v Sergeant Gonzalez>friends in combat, because that's when you realize that no matter where you're from, what <v Sergeant Gonzalez>you look like, how much you depend from the man next to you. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>In this case, I would say the person, too, in the world, you know, because we're here, we <v Sergeant Gonzalez>need each other. And that's been an experience that even though it's passed <v Sergeant Gonzalez>so long, you know, I still have flashbacks on it. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>And I remember a lot of those who died responding to the call of duty. <v Mauricio Gerson>Although the proportion of Hispanics in the military is parallel to their representation <v Mauricio Gerson>in the U.S. population, their rate of achievement is greater than their numbers, <v Mauricio Gerson>as reflected by the high proportion of medals that the Army has awarded to Hispanics. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>Since the establishment of the award of the Medal of Honor there <v Sergeant Gonzalez>have been 37 that I know of Hispanics have received, which
<v Sergeant Gonzalez>is the highest medal you receive in the nation. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>Compared to it you know, not only that one, there's been a lot of other <v Sergeant Gonzalez>commendations and Hispanics are always been up in the top ones. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>You know, with the decorations and awards I have received. <v Sergeant Gonzalez>So for the amount of people I and if you look at the percentage wise, it is <v Sergeant Gonzalez>among the highest one to have received, the highest honor on the medal, United States. <v Mauricio Gerson>Next, we'll discuss with Hispanic Vietnam veterans the consequence of participating <v Mauricio Gerson>in a very unpopular war. <v Sergeant Rod>See, I'm going to hate that war until the day I die <v Sergeant Rod>because it may be here, man. My best friends cry. <v Sergeant Rod>I heard him say, Hey, Sergeant Rod this guy is dead. <v Sergeant Rod>You know, that was quite a price that he had to pay, <v Sergeant Rod>not to be able to see that next day.
<v Sergeant Rod>He paid that price still. But what did he buy? <v Sergeant Rod>He bought all of our lives by losing his. <v Sergeant Rod>But who gives a god damn what a soldier gives? <v Sergeant Rod>Maybe his wife for his sons, but they're just about <v Sergeant Rod>the only ones.
<v Mauricio Gerson>[speaking Spanish] <v Angel Quinonez>[speaking Spanish]
<v Speaker 1>[speaking Spanish] <v Sergeant Rod>I have a wife, I have 3 children, and this is my <v Sergeant Rod>second marriage. <v Sergeant Rod>My first one failed because of the Vietnam War. <v Sergeant Rod>Why take prescription drugs <v Sergeant Rod>to know me? <v Sergeant Rod>I um I also drink. <v Sergeant Rod>A lot of people say excessively, but <v Sergeant Rod>I drink to a point where I feel comfortable. <v Sergeant Rod>In other words, I can, at least for one day, <v Sergeant Rod>forget what I was thinking about yesterday. <v Carlos Mendez>My job is to reach out to these individuals
<v Carlos Mendez>and bring them in because usually they <v Carlos Mendez>prefer to talk to another Hispanic <v Carlos Mendez>because of the cultural and a language. <v Carlos Mendez>They prefer to express themselves in Spanish, some of them <v Carlos Mendez>the majority. And they feel like like you was talking about the machismo. <v Carlos Mendez>You know, they, you know, like they're macho, you know, like <v Carlos Mendez>most of the Hispanics in Vietnam have the most medal <v Carlos Mendez>of honors cause of the machismo. <v Carlos Mendez>And they they love the war. <v Carlos Mendez>A lot of Hispanics don't go to the V.A. <v Carlos Mendez>for psychotherapy or come to the center because they feel <v Carlos Mendez>they could do it within the family. <v Speaker 1>[speaking Spanish]
<v Speaker 2>[speaking Spanish] <v Speaker 1>[speaking Spanish] <v Carlos Mendez>There should be more Hispanics within the V.A. <v Carlos Mendez>system to address the needs of the
<v Carlos Mendez>Hispanic population. <v Carlos Mendez>And you know, we're working on it probably in the future. <v Carlos Mendez>You know, they have other Hispanics <v Carlos Mendez>because there's a lot of Hispanics within New Jersey. <v Carlos Mendez>They are in dire need of readjustment counseling.
<v Mauricio Gerson>On May 7, 1984, New Jersey State Trooper Carlos Negron <v Mauricio Gerson>offered assistance to the driver of a disabled van on the New Jersey Turnpike. <v Mauricio Gerson>He was gunned down without warning. <v Mauricio Gerson>He didn't know that both occupants of that vehicle had long criminal records. <v Mauricio Gerson>He died doing what he loved most, helping others. <v Mauricio Gerson>Every time a policeman is killed, it sends shockwaves through the ranks of the <v Mauricio Gerson>men in blue. In this day, some fictional heroes, glamor and fame. <v Mauricio Gerson>It is refreshing to know that there are communities that still recognize the values <v Mauricio Gerson>of our real life hero. <v Douglas Palmer>It's not only an Hispanic hero, but he's an American hero. <v Douglas Palmer>Not only was he a state trooper, that's the end of the story. <v Douglas Palmer>But there's so much in between that. <v Douglas Palmer>There is the point that he always was helping out his family, that he was <v Douglas Palmer>working in the community and community related projects, and that he had and
<v Douglas Palmer>desire a strong desire to be a trooper. <v Douglas Palmer>And I found out later that he had he had enrolled as <v Douglas Palmer>a trooper the first time. <v Douglas Palmer>And anyone that wanted to be a state trooper and went through the testing, <v Douglas Palmer>the physical requirements as well, know how strenuous it is. <v Douglas Palmer>And Carlos went through it. <v Douglas Palmer>And the first time he he dropped out, he was feigning and having these kind of problems <v Douglas Palmer>and many people would quit. <v Douglas Palmer>I know many people that would quit and use as an excuse. <v Douglas Palmer>But what he did was he did the extreme. <v Douglas Palmer>He went to the Marine Corps and got his training and built himself up. <v Douglas Palmer>And then after he was discharged, honorably, came back and tried it again. <v Douglas Palmer>And I think that's important. I think our young people, not only just Hispanics, <v Douglas Palmer>but Blacks, whites, Asians as well, can learn a lesson from that. <v Mauricio Gerson>To repay Carlos Negron's dedication to the community, a group of individuals in Trenton <v Mauricio Gerson>is gathering at different functions to raise money for a park in his memory.
<v Arthur J. Holland>Well I think it's very appropriate that the entire community participate, and especially <v Arthur J. Holland>I as mayor. Carlos Negron everybody <v Arthur J. Holland>is agreed was an exemplary young person. <v Arthur J. Holland>He made it the hard way. <v Arthur J. Holland>It was a very difficult road that he had to make his way on. <v Arthur J. Holland>And it's just tragic that he was there <v Arthur J. Holland>and we believe on his way up the line of duty, he <v Arthur J. Holland>he lost his life. But to young people and especially to Hispanics, <v Arthur J. Holland>and particularly for Puerto Ricans he stands as someone who's <v Arthur J. Holland>demonstrated that you can if you are well motivated and work <v Arthur J. Holland>hard achieve your goal. <v Speaker 3>I met Carlos in the State Police Academy. <v Speaker 3>We both went through the '98 state police class and we were bunkmates <v Speaker 3>in the same room. We went through rigorous training together.
<v Speaker 3>And I was just explaining about Carlos. <v Speaker 3>He was just such a go getter. <v Speaker 3>He wanted the job. He wanted to be a trooper in a worst way. <v Speaker 3>And he studied hard. We studied together on weekends and he wanted to he <v Speaker 3>was amazing. He was just totally amazing person. <v Speaker 3>A great friend and a good trooper. <v Mauricio Gerson>Although Carlos Negron died a tragic death, he is remembered by his friends <v Mauricio Gerson>for his good deeds and determination. <v Mauricio Gerson>These values have also been exemplified by his fellow officers, especially <v Mauricio Gerson>by the Hispanics who admired him for not quitting. <v Ismael Rivera>?inaudible? state police make it a career. <v Ismael Rivera>It's a good career. It's a good organization, a professional organization. <v Ismael Rivera>And I'm proud to be a trooper. <v Ismael Rivera>It's a shame you know what happened to him. <v Ismael Rivera>It's just one of the things that that's part of your job. <v Ismael Rivera>You know, the men in blue. You know, we are a target. <v Ismael Rivera>You know, you start we stop someone. <v Ismael Rivera>They know who we are, but we don't know who they are, you know. <v Ismael Rivera>So.
<v Ismael Rivera>I think, you know, he was a proud trooper and a good cop. <v Pedro Medina>He was the first Hispanic to become a state trooper. <v Pedro Medina>And as a Hispanic Puerto Rican myself, he gives me so much pride and I feel <v Pedro Medina>so good, okay, to see that he was able to accomplish the ?inaudible? <v Pedro Medina>Than a youth going to look at ook up to him say look I want to be like him. <v Pedro Medina>I want to make like him. And I'm sure that he'she is and he was and will <v Pedro Medina>be a role model for our youth. <v Mauricio Gerson>This vacant lot will be turned into a recreationaland memorial park for Carlos Negron. <v Mauricio Gerson>It will be a lasting reminder of a young ?inaudible? <v Mauricio Gerson>who gave his time and love to children, the community and his family. <v Mauricio Gerson>Just a few blocks away is the house where Carlos' dreams began. <v Mauricio Gerson>His mother still grieves the loss of her beloved son, who conquered the obstacles <v Mauricio Gerson>of life to reach his goal. <v Mauricio Gerson>He leaves behind many memories of a boy who was once called the all-American <v Mauricio Gerson>Hispanic. But most of all, he leaves a family that refuses to let his
<v Mauricio Gerson>memory fade away. <v Jennie Negron>You know, I was determined to do something. <v Jennie Negron>So several letters were written to the mayor asking him would <v Jennie Negron>he consider doing something in memory of my brother. <v Jennie Negron>A meeting was set up and the mayor decided that the best thing to do was to have <v Jennie Negron>a park. Due o the city budget, not only provide the land. <v Jennie Negron>So therefore, we have to come [up with] the money. <v Jennie Negron>So what we're going to do is we're going to have several fundraising events to raise the <v Jennie Negron>money. And of course ?inaudible? <v Jennie Negron>contributions. True it's a high road being that we come from situation <v Jennie Negron>where many [people don't] have that type of money. <v Jennie Negron>Our parents come from a poor background so therefore we have to struggle. <v Mrs. Negron>[speaking Spanish] <v Mrs. Negron>
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#1303 Vietnam Veterans
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New Jersey Network (Trenton, New Jersey)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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New Jersey Network
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Chicago: “#1303 Vietnam Veterans; Images/Imagenes,” New Jersey Network, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “#1303 Vietnam Veterans; Images/Imagenes.” New Jersey Network, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: #1303 Vietnam Veterans; Images/Imagenes. Boston, MA: New Jersey Network, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from