Houston native Spc. Hugo Martinez is a proud first generation American and Hispanic Soldier who is a part of the 1st Cavalry Division Band.

His parents are natives of Guerro, Mexico, and came to America to give Martinez a chance for a better life, which is why he believes it’s important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

“The Army is supposed to be diverse so everyone from different parts of the world come to America for a better life,” Martinez said. “I think it’s important because everyone needs to feel important and be recognized because it’s a melting pot … it’s the land of the free.”

Diversity is important to him because he’s been able to meet several people from different cultures, learn about them and see how music really connects us.

“I like how I get to make a lot of new friends from Asia and I’ve got a friend from Columbia now that he’s in the unit.”

Martinez said it wasn’t until he joined the 1st Cav. Div. Band that he discovered that Polka music is popular in several countries, nameley Germany, Sweden and Mexico.

“We love accordion, Germans love the accordion, same thing with the French,” he said about the similarities. “I’ve also have gotten to try a lot of different foods and they’ve gotten to try mine – types of seafood from Mexico.”

After attending college at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, having an internship at Rice University in Houston and going to Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches to get a bachelors in sound recording, he knew he wanted to join the Army  to give back being inspired by a Hispanic Soldier at Rice University, Staff Sgt. Pat Salas.

“I remember he was in the artillery, so he served in Iraq and stuff. He suffered from PTSD, but after he got to know me, he found out my background that we went to the same college, he got a degree in audio and I didn’t know that he owned a recording studio,” he said. “So, we ended up collaborating and I would see how each day he would use music to overcome his PTSD.”

His parents encouraged him, hoping their son would achieve all his ambitions.

“I joined the Army in June of 2018. After college, I wanted to give back to this country for providing me a better life than my parents had,” he said. “They told me to follow my dreams, that’s the reason they came here.”

He was happy that the Great Place was willing to recognize his heritage in a news article and it made him feel proud.

“I actually felt kind of good about myself and it made me more proud to be in the Army,” he added.