GYEONGJU, South Korea –
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. This year’s Department of Defense Education Activity theme is: “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.”
Defense Logistics Agency Energy is highlighting employees of Hispanic heritage throughout the month in honor of their enduring contributions to the agency’s global mission of logistics support to America’s warfighters.
Name: Jose Antonio Medina
Organization: DLA Energy Korea
Years of Service: 20 years
What is your ethnicity? I am Puerto Rican and Mexican but born and raised in Texas.
What is your job title, and what do you do, specifically? I am an Army lieutenant colonel and currently serve as the DLA Energy Korea Battalion Commander. I lead a joint logistics command comprised of U.S. Army and Air Force members, DoD Civilians, and Korean National Employees. We execute bulk petroleum supply, distribution, and quality management for U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command, and United Nations Command forces operating in defense of the Republic of Korea. I maintain oversight of bulk petroleum operations and contracts valued more than $1.2 billion at 17 installations and 21 Defense Fuel Support Points across the ROK. I also help facilitate in international fuel agreement negotiations between USFK, ROK industry, and the ROK Ministry of National Defense.
What do you like most about your job? Never in my life would I have imagined that I would be serving my country while I was growing up. I’m just a kid from Edinburg, Texas, which is in the southernmost part of Texas, known as the Rio Grande Valley. All I ever wanted to do was to be a Cross Country and Track & Field coach when I was in college. Now, here I am in Korea serving the warfighters! Our mission is huge, and we strive to make sure that the Warfighter receives the fuel that keeps their vehicles moving and the heaters going in the winter. Leading troops and civilians is a dream come true from when I first commissioned as an officer back in 2001.
What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago? Continue to grow as individual and never stop learning. There is always something new to learn every day.
What is the best piece of advice you can give someone? Continue to live your dreams and never ever give up on them. You might need to adjust course throughout your journey, but you will eventually get there if you stay firm in your goals. I have been truly blessed throughout my career as and Army Officer and as a father of five children.
What personal accomplishments are you most proud of? Serving my country for the last 20 years and being a father to five great kids from the ages of 24 to 9 years of age.
If you could pick a personal motto, what would it be? “Dale duro y sigue adelante” (“Go hard and keep going/moving forward”). Growing up, my father would always tell us that if you don’t get an education you will get left behind. He’d take my siblings and I to work in the fields during the summer. He was teaching us two things: (1) how hard it is in the fields if we don’t get an education and (2) working for pennies on the dollar will take you longer to reach your goals. So, he always tell us, “Dale duro y sigue adelante.”
What do you think about when you hear Hispanic Heritage Month? It’s a month where we get share our unique customs, traditions, and the richness of our heritage.
In your opinion, what challenges remain for Hispanic Americans today and how can understanding history help us to overcome them? I think many of us just need to be true to our family heritage and never change who you are. You can always adapt and be more patient with others and their ways of thinking.
How has your family’s Hispanic ancestry/origins influenced your life? I’ve always stayed true to myself and never wavered. My parents raised me to be proud of who I’m and encourage other to do the same. My father was of Puerto Rican descent and my mother is of Mexican descent. I get to celebrate two great culture and traditions.