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White House Ceremony Produces Reunion

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2004 – Ten-year Air Force veteran Capt. Elizabeth Ortiz was thrilled just to be at the White House for the Sept. 15 kick-off for National Hispanic Heritage Month. She never imagined that it would turn into a reunion.

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Capt. Elizabeth Ortiz, of Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., unexpectedly bumped into childhood friend, Rachel Campos at the White House's National Hispanic Heritage Month kick-off event. Both former Air Force brats, the women claim each other as their only childhood friend after having gone to school together from kindergarten through the fifth grade. Campos currently co-hosts "Speaking of Women's Health" with Florence Henderson on Saturday mornings on the Lifetime cable network. Photo by TSgt. Ivan Idrovo, USAF

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Ortiz was one of eight servicemembers representing Hispanics in the military. Among the prominent personalities in attendance was entertainment personality Rachel Campos, who currently co-hosts "Speaking of Women's Health" with actress Florence Henderson on the Lifetime cable network.

The two women recognized one another immediately. It turns out that Ortiz and Campos met in kindergarten and both describe the other as their only childhood friend, Ortiz said.

A self-described "Air Force brat," Ortiz is currently a public affairs officer stationed at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. She said that the Air Force is her family's business. Her father retired from the Air Force as a senior master sergeant and her sister, Jennifer, also a captain, is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and currently stationed in Japan.

Ortiz' and Campos' fathers ended up being transferred to the same bases, which allowed the women to go through the fifth grade together. They also both share a Hispanic heritage. Both of their mothers, also longtime friends, are natives of Spain, Ortiz said.

"I've seen her on TV through the years," Ortiz said. "It was a pretty joyful occasion on top of just being at the White House."

In his remarks at the event, President Bush said he recognized Hispanic servicemembers and their service to the country. "Latinos have contributed to the defense of freedom abroad and to the advance of freedom inside our own country," Bush said.

"Today there are almost 200,000 Hispanic Americans serving in the armed forces," the president continued. "Eight of these incredibly brave men and women are with us today. ... Thank you for wearing the uniform."

National Hispanic Heritage Month continues through Oct. 15.

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Transcript of White House National Hispanic Heritage Month Event

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