This year’s Naval Battle of Riachuelo campaign highlights inspiring stories of military personnel
Agência Marinha de Notícias – Brasília, DF
The history of the Brazilian Navy (MB) was and is built by heroes, some famous and many unknown. From naval figures to the present day, our personnel – military personnel and civil servants, men and women – are the foundation of the institution. From the disputes over territory in colonial Brazil to the Navy’s participation in the Triple Alliance War, from the First and Second World Wars to the expansion of the limits of the Brazilian sea and to the actions of Hospital Assistance in the Amazon, there were several Brazilians who dedicated their lives in defense of national unity and of the country’s development, demonstrating the fundamental participation of men at sea in the construction of our history.
The first important figures for Brazilian Naval History emerged from the defense of Colonial Brazil’s interests: Cristóvão Jacques, Martim Afonso de Souza, Estácio de Sá, Salvador Correia de Sá e Benevides, Jerônimo de Albuquerque, and so many other protagonists of heroic deeds that often sacrificed their own lives for the cause they defended.
The gallery of the notable figures of our Naval History gains new characters with the birth of independent Brazil, when the Imperial Navy was constituted, represented by the Independence Fleet. Throughout time, emblematic examples of heroism, courage, strategic vision, administrative competence, fiber, intelligence, and dedication were offered to future generations by Tamandaré, Barroso, Inhaúma, Custódio de Mello, Wandenkolk, Alexandrino, Júlio de Noronha, Frontin, Álvaro Alberto, the young Navy Guards Greenhalgh and Aspirante Nascimento, and other names of great value.
Also of note is the Imperial Mariner Marcílio Dias, a character honored in this year’s institutional campaign about the Naval Battle of Riachuelo – the Navy’s Magnificent Date, which is celebrated on June 11. His story continues to inspire many Brazilians, especially those who decided to join the MB in search of a better future. Marcílio Dias is considered one of the heroes of the Naval Battle of Riachuelo and became known for giving his life for the nation. Born in Rio Grande (RS), he joined the Imperial Navy when he was seventeen, when his mother, Pulsena Dias, worried about his rebellious behavior, enrolled his son in the Rio de Janeiro School for Grumetes, in order to transform his future.
On June 11, 1865, aboard the corvette “Parnaíba”, attacked by Paraguayan ships, Marcílio Dias was mortally wounded in a melee against four enemies, and died the next day. Through his story, he is one of the heroes of the past that encourage the Navy to be the Force that transforms lives, inspiring Brazilians today to fight for a better future.
Transforming the Present and Inspiring the Future
Today, the Brazilian Navy has among its active duty personnel men and women who seek, in their day-to-day work, to honor those who have made the MB an institution respected by the Brazilian people. They are Brazilians from all corners of the country, from north to south, from different origins, with diverse life stories, who make the Force a portrait of our Brazil.
Scattered all over Brazil, in the MB military organizations distributed throughout our territory, from Oiapoque (AP) to Chuí (RS), are Cariocas who today work in São Paulo (SP), Bahians in Rio Grande do Sul (RS), Santa Catarinaers in Palmas (TO), Pernambucanos in Brasília (DF), and so on. Many of them have stories of overcoming obstacles, of dedication to the Navy, and of love for the Homeland.
As an example, the Navy highlights the stories of overcoming of the three characters of this year’s campaign in commemoration of the Naval Battle of Riachuelo: Petty Officer TE Francisco Holanda de Miranda; Staff Sergeant TE Wallace Sabino Albuquerque; and Staff Sergeant (FN) Juares Augusto Raposo Reboita Junior.
In January 1978, Petty Officer TE Miranda was born, by the hands of a midwife, on the banks of the Laguinho River. The town, with about 100 inhabitants, is in the Rural Zone of the municipality of Afuá (PA). “On this river I was raised by my parents, great-grandparents, and uncles until I was seven years old. Like all riverside dwellers, I learned how to swim, fish, and help hunt in the woods for food,” recalls Miranda.
At the age of seven, his family moved to the city of Macapá (AP) in search of a better life. Miranda started working at the age of ten to help his family, who lived in an invasion area. At 17, with a lot of effort, he finished elementary school and at 18 decided to take the exam to join the MB, after seeing an ad on television. In the Navy, Miranda got to know several cities in Brazil and abroad, aboard the ships he served in.
“I always thank the Brazilian Navy for having opened the doors for me to get to know the world. Before taking the Apprentice Seaman exam I had never left the region where I was born and lived my childhood. That is why I encourage young people to join and follow a naval career,” he adds.
Another military man who has an inspiring story is First Sergeant-ET Wallace. Born on June 4, 1982, in Juazeiro do Norte (CE), like many Brazilians he experienced financial difficulties in his childhood. Wallace kept his determination in the face of difficulties in pursuit of his dreams. He lived in a house with no water or electricity. He fed himself, most of the time, with a mixture of flour and some meat or egg.
“Encouraged by some cousins who were in a stabilized situation, employed as mechanics, I conquered a place at SENAI. That was when I met a friend who took the exam for the Navy and passed,” he recalled.
From then on, there were many stories, days at sea, and trips. “There are several situations lived, more than 1,600 sea days and more than 21 years of intense work. But I keep a single thought: I would do it all again,” he added.
Sergeant Wallace says that the MB has allowed him to get to know different places and create friendships that, sometimes, are stronger than blood ties. “The MB is my second family, a second home, and it was a chance to transform not only my life, but the lives of my whole family,” he said.
Third Sergeant (FN) Juares also has a story of overcoming. Coming from a poor family, with many financial problems, the little boy, as he described himself, was born in 1987, in the city of Rio Grande (RS). His perseverance made him overcome life’s obstacles and make a career in the Brazilian Navy, the institution he chose to be able to help his family. “Since I was a child I had a dream: I wanted to be in the military and help my family, but at that time I saw this as something impossible due to the reality and the environment in which I lived, a poor community in the outskirts of the city where I was born.”
Sergeant Juares says that he was a troubled teenager and that, in 2002, he was lucky enough to be enrolled by his parents in an MB social project, run by the 5th Naval District Command, which had the purpose of rescuing children and teenagers who were in a socially vulnerable situation. It was during the project that he learned about one of the pillars of militarism – discipline -, and learned the importance of doing physical activities, keeping to schedules, being focused, and respecting and worshipping national symbols.
“I thank the Navy for having invested in me with countless courses and missions, improving me technically and professionally throughout my career, allowing that young man from the past to fulfill his dream. Today I am a military man, I built my mother’s house, I can help my family and I am a reference for neighbors, friends, and family,” he concluded.
Just like Miranda, Wallace and Juares, there are many Marias and Antonios that make up the staff of our institution. They are men and women who manifest in their daily lives the military values of patriotism, civism, worship to historical traditions, faith in the mission of the Armed Forces, pride, body spirit, love for the profession, and enthusiasm. They are examples today that will surely inspire future generations of Brazilian Navy soldiers.