By Leonard Rodriguez
This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino leaders. For more than 500 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics.

Portrait of U.S. Army Lt. Gen Edward D. Baca, (uncovered), (U.S. Army photo by Mr. Scott Davis) (Released) (PC-192399)

Edward Baca

In 1956, Edward Baca began his military career. During the Vietnam War, Baca volunteered for overseas deployment. In 1966, he was released from active duty and made his career in New Mexico’s National Guard. Over the next several years, Baca served in a myriad of key battalion, brigade and state level assignments before being promoted to lieutenant general and then Chief of the National Guard Bureau by President Clinton on Oct. 1, 1994.

Currently the highest-ranking Latino in the armed forces and the first Hispanic to head the National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. Baca is responsible for more than half a million Air and Army National Guard personnel.