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A Well Deserved Tribute in the Land of 1000 Dances

Anthony Montecino's 1st Annual Unsung American War Heroes of Mexican Decent Tribute Show

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: September 11, 2012


A Well Deserved Tribute in the Land of 1000 Dances


As any proud U.S. Military Veteran can tell you, those who never served, will never "get it" about what it's really like to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. Movies & TV just don't suffice…sorry, Hollywood.

Sure, some of us older guys can remember being "short" and wanting nothing better than to be discharged and go back home "to the world" and "our babes" after a couple of years…but many years later, we can't forget our experiences, and some of the people we met and served with, not to mention the places we've seen… and we're grateful, for sure, to be living in a free country we helped protect by virtue of having put on a uniform, picked up a weapon, and being around and ready to fight for our Country had the time come…and for some of us, it did.

To some of us, the pride came later as we matured, and saw what a hard time our non-serving peers were having facing stress and everyday "BS" in life, that we as Veterans simply took for granted as just life. Given our military experiences, which sometimes specialized in "BS" to the 10th power while on active duty (no disrespect intended, of course), we learned to handle things…we had to…and we did.

And like a lot of veteran street survivors that make it to adulthood, we military Veterans almost laugh at some adults who can't handle sacrifice, hard times, lean times, difficult times, mud on their shoes, or the most minimal threat to their well being & comfort, before it becomes drama that needs to be addressed in therapy or Facebook posts looking for sympathy & support…not that it's right that we do that, but that's just how it "comes out in the wash", so to speak.

That being said, the highest level of having served in the military has always been being recognized as a hero in combat. I say HIGHER LEVEL in the most reverent & respectful manner of expression, because most combat heroes died in action. There's only 2 outcomes in battle: you either live or you die, no exceptions, no further explanation necessary or required.

Some men have died in battle sacrificing their lives to save the lives of other men from our country, while violently taking the lives of other men from another country to do so…there's NO morals or exceptions in combat…and to this ultimate sacrifice, as politically distasteful as it is to those who never served in uniform, but enjoy the freedom of a country protected by those who have…we honor those men for their heroism and gallantry while serving under the red, white, and blue.

This past Sunday, I was honored to join Mr. STEVEN CHAVEZ of East L.A. Revue Radio, and my brother East L.A. Revue Radio DJ's CHICO MANQUEROS and SUGARBEAR, as we partook in AM BLACKTIE AFFAIRS and American Legion Post 397's , (Monterey Park, CA) presentation of the 1st Annual Unsung American War Heroes of Mexican Decent.

It was indeed an honor to meet & break bread with so many brother & sister Latino warrior Veterans & their families who had combat service histories & heroes dating back to World War I. (never learned THAT history in school growing up!)

I learned that there was a Mexican fighter pilot squadron (Aguilas Aztecas) that flew combat missions in the battles of the Phillipine Islands in World War II. Wow!

We also honored Latino Congressional Medal of Honor recipients…and learned some more great BROWN history in the process.

I was honored to give a service award and traditional folded & encased American flag to the family of a Korean War Mexican-American Medal of Honor recipient, and also to a true Latina warrior, Sergeant Maria Estrada (U.S. Air Force - U.S. Army) who has 4 (that's right, FOUR) combat tours in the Middle East. (She's pictured with me). A righteous Brown Lady at that, too! I had a chance to chat with her, a single mother, and I came away impressed by a brave Lady who's not yet done serving her Country...talk about a role model!

I was also honored to meet author Eddie Morín, decorated Viet Nam Veteran who wrote the book "Valor & Discord", a best seller about a Chicanos combat experience in Viet Nam.

Afterwards, live entertainment for dancing was provided by the popular SOTO Band, who were recognized for their selfless dedication to our American troops overseas by having performed for them in combat zones in Iraq, Korea, and Afghanistan over the past few years. That was impressive to a lot of us there, who are used to seeing the SOTO brothers band safely on stage here in Aztlan.

"Some people have said that our guys over there were lucky to have us go perform for them in a combat zone," band leader BRUCE SOTO said on stage between breaks, "But I say it's us who were lucky to go over and play for them…and we'll do it again if asked! They sacrifice so much for all of us." This drew a loud applause and of course, SOTO gave a magnificent and stunning performance as the band gave it their all in 3 great sets that got a lot of us dancing to some great sounds.

Afterwards, the great JOHNNY POLANCO and his band took the stage, giving up some great Latin Soul and Salsa music that Johnny is known around the World for. Multi-talented Johnny is also a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, which made muchos points with many of us.

(both DJ Sugarbear and I are Viet Nam Era Marine Corps Veterans - Ooh~rah!)

Between sets, both Bruce Soto and Johnny Polanco took time to kick it and mingle with everybody outside on the patio for a cold one and a chat. Both Bruce & Johnny are "major leaguers" in the Latino music scene today, and yet, they were both ever so humble, friendly, and approachable as they both told me THEY were the ones that felt honored to be playing at this event today honoring Latino-American military veterans. I was also very impressed with Johnny's knowledge and sharing of music history, art, and geo-politics concerning Latinos in the U.S. today…maybe another story…?

Event organizer Anthony Montecino was very grateful to everybody who helped with the event, especially the Veterans & staff at American Legion Post 397, some great guys & gals for sure!

"I've been wanting to do this for along time. I do historical documentaries, and there's not a lot about Mexican American war heroes…and in studying the hard-to-find and seldom-mentioned history of our people…I found there are a lot of them, and there needs to be more attention and respect given to these men, so I hope and plan to make this a bigger and better event every year," Anthony told me proudly, as he shared sme impressive plans for next year.

…the Brutha has MY support !

Afterwards, as the show ended, DJ Sugabear & myself, along with our ladies, were generously treated to plenty of ice cold drinks & hospitality by the Vets at Post 397 as a warm show of welcome, before being invited to the private estate of Thee Midniters great, GEORGE SALAZAR, another Viet Nam Veteran, for a private after-party.

The night ended well, I was thankful for the day, and I felt proud to have been invited to this special event… …we all did!

Note: Anthony Montecino can be reached at: www.amblacktie.com

About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is a proud U.S. Marine Corps & U.S. Army Veteran, heard daily on Internet Radio station www.eastLArevue.com , and is a regular contributor to this web magazine.
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