Firsts for Hispanic Women in the Marine Corps

Hispanic Heritage Month
Firsts for Hispanic Women in the Marine Corps
Posted on 3/1/2000

The first known Latina woman Marine served during World War II. Her name was Maria Lourdes (Torres) Maes. Like many women of her era, she joined the Marines specifically to “Free a Man to Fight.” She attained the terminal rank of Corporal.

Born in Puerto Rico, Rose Franco enlisted in 1952 during the Korean War and served until her retirement in 1977. She was the first Hispanic woman to become a chief warrant officer.

Corporal Ramona Valdez, born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the Bronx was the first woman to die in combat in the Iraq War. She was killed in Iraq on June 23, 2005. On August 26, 2017, Fordham Road & Grand Concourse was dedicated as “Marine Corporal Ramona Valdez Square,” in her honor.

The child of Mexican immigrants, Angela Salinas was the first in her family to graduate from college. On August 2, 2006, Major General Angela Salinas made history when she became the first Hispanic female to obtain a general rank in the Marine Corps. Upon her retirement in 2013, she was the highest-ranking female officer in the Marines.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15 through October 15. Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 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 number of Marines of Hispanic descent who infuse the Marine Corps with the unique customs and traditions of their culture continues to grow. The young Hispanic men and women who join the Marine Corps today are born of a proud culture. They choose to adopt the ethos of the Marine Corps, and ultimately strengthen our Corps and Nation.



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