Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon open to Team Hill

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The theme for this year's observance is “Shaping the Bright Future of America.”

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period. It was enacted into law on Aug. 17, 1988.

The day Sept. 15 is significant because it’s the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept.18, respectively. Columbus Day, also known as Día de la Raza, is Oct. 12 and is within the 30 day period.

As the nation’s largest minority, the Hispanic population continues to shape and strengthen the fabric of American culture through their unwavering commitment to family, faith, ingenuity and public service. They enrich local culture with the addition of new language, values and ideals.

Hispanics have energized our nation’s diversity in a myriad of areas enabling America’s greatness. Immeasurable contributions towards the defense of this nation, performing arts, athletics, civil service, entrepreneurship, and agriculture are just a few that help keep the United States atop global competition.

This year, Team Hill will recognize Hispanic Heritage Month during a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Hubbard Golf Course club house. Registration will be done via an e-invitation distributed by the base protocol office or call 801-586-1938.

The guest speaker for this year’s luncheon is retired Air Force Col. Kurt Gallegos, a former 944th Fighter Wing commander at Luke AFB, Arizona.

Gallegos was born and raised in Layton, Utah. He graduated from Layton High School and was commissioned in 1985 from Utah State University’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program and earned his pilot wings in 1987.

He served on active duty from 1986 to 2000 and joined the Air Force Reserve in 2000. He was the first F-16 pilot to drop bombs in Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001.

Gallegos has more than 4,400 F-16 flying hours and more than 5,800 total hours. He has 462 combat hours.