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655th ISRG officer promotes Hispanic culture, diversity in Dayton

Lt. Col Herminio J. Lugo (right) is shown with Edwin Colon Zayas, a highly accomplished Puerto Rican "cuatrista" or Cuatro player, visiting Dayton, Ohio, Oct. 3, 2016. Lugo plays the Cuatro, the national instrument of Puerto Rico, for a local band. He performs in many different festivals representing the Hispanic culture throughout the year. (Courtesy photo)

Lt. Col Herminio J. Lugo (right) is shown with Edwin Colon Zayas, a highly accomplished Puerto Rican "cuatrista" or Cuatro player, visiting Dayton, Ohio, Oct. 3, 2016. Lugo plays the Cuatro, the national instrument of Puerto Rico, for a local band. He performs in many different festivals representing the Hispanic culture throughout the year. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Many Hispanic-Americans call the Dayton, Ohio, community their home. They participate in organizations that celebrate the traditions of Hispanic heritage and culture.

Lt. Col. Herminio J. Lugo, chief of staff of the 655th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group here, plays a vital role in recognizing Hispanics in the Dayton region and has participated in several Hispanic Heritage committees since 1995.

Lugo, a Puerto Rican native, also serves as the diversity officer for the 655th ISR Group as an Air Force Reservist and is a civilian employee assigned to the Special Operations Forces & Personnel Recovery Division, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center as a logistic management specialist.

In 2002, he became a member of the Puerto Rican Cultural Society and Puerto Rican, American and Caribbean Organization in Dayton. PACO is a non-profit organization operated by an all-volunteer staff, mostly employees of Wright-Patterson AFB.

Since then, his responsibilities and contributions as a committee and board member in both organizations have increased over the years.

This year, for the 16th Annual Hispanic Heritage Festival in Dayton, he served as the committee’s director of operations and assistant stage manager.

“Our mission is to provide charitable services, promote awareness and educate the Dayton community and surrounding areas about the Hispanic culture,” said Lugo. “The revenues we receive from the festival are given back to the Hispanic community.”

Funds raised from the festival are used to provide scholarships, donate meal baskets during the holidays, and provide gifts to more than 300 children during the “Dia de Los Reyes Magos” (Three Kings Day) celebration, a Hispanic holiday observed during the Christmas season.

During Thanksgiving, PACO delivers more than 90 turkey meals to needy families and other charities in the local area.

Throughout the year, Lugo has performed in many different festivals representing the Hispanic culture. He also plays the Cuatro, the national instrument of Puerto Rico, for a local band called Rondalla Puerto Rico.

“I’m very proud of my Hispanic culture,” said Lugo. “Our group represents all Hispanics whether you are Mexican, Chilean, Venezuelan, Puerto Rican, or from Guatemala…we may have our own and unique and diverse traditional differences, but the one thing we all have in common is that all the Latinos in the community are family centered…it’s the nucleus [of who we are]…we like to stick together.”

Having diversity in the communities has always remained one of the culture’s greatest strengths, and Hispanics have long played an important part in Dayton’s proud heritage and the building of this great city. During the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, it is essential to continue to support opportunities for future advancements and recognize the achievements and contribution within the Hispanic community of all minority populations alike, said Lugo.

For next year’s festival, PACO is partnering with the United Rehabilitation Services’ Rubber Duck Regatta event. Each year, URS highlights a special child to represent their organization. A Hispanic boy has been chosen to represent URS in 2017.

“The main person behind my achievements and efforts to continue assisting the Hispanic community is my wife, Martha,” said Lugo. “She is also a dedicated volunteer for the Hispanic community and dances for the same musical group, Rondalla Puerto Rico.”