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Jorge Otero Barreto
Sergeant First Class Jorge Otero Barreto
Nickname The Puerto Rican Rambo
Born 7 April 1937(1937-04-07) (age 84)[1][2]
Place of birth Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1959-1970
Rank Army-USA-OR-07.svg Sergeant First Class
Unit US 101st Airborne Division patch.svg 101st Airborne Division
25th Infantry Division CSIB.svg 25th Infantry Division,
Tropic Lightning (Special Designation)[3]
82nd Airborne Division CSIB.svg 82nd Airborne Division
173Airborne Brigade Shoulder Patch.png 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star (3)
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star (5)
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal (4)
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart (5)
Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal (5)

Sergeant First Class Jorge A. Otero Barreto[note 1] (Ret.), a.k.a. "the Puerto Rican Rambo"[4] (born 7 April 1937), earned 38 military decorations and has been called the most decorated U.S. soldier of the Vietnam War.[4][5][6] Due to his multiple awards he has received recognition from numerous organizations and has had buildings named after him. He is also the main subject of Brave Lords, a documentary which tells the story of the Puerto Rican experience in the war in Vietnam.

Early years[edit | edit source]

Otero Barreto was born in the town of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, the son of Eloy Otero-Bruno and Crispina Barreto-Torres.[7][8] His father named him "Jorge", Spanish for George, after George Washington whom Otero-Bruno admired.[9] In Vega Baja, Otero Barreto received his primary and secondary education. He attended college for three years, studying biology until 1959 when he joined the U.S. Army. After his basic training, he attended the Army's Air Assault School, graduating in 1960.[10] He was the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the U.S. Army Air Assault School.[9]

Vietnam War[edit | edit source]

From 1961 to 1970, Otero Barreto served five tours in Southeast Asia, starting as an advisor who helped train Vietnamese troops.[11][12] According to the documentary "Brave Lords", Otero Barreto served in various military units during his military career. He served in the 101st Airborne Division and the 25th Infantry Division "Tropic Lightning". He also served in the 82nd Airborne Division, an active airborne infantry division of the United States Army specializing in parachute landing operations and in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.[13] He participated in 200 combat missions,[4] was wounded five times in combat,[14] and was awarded 38 military decorations,[15] making him "the most decorated soldier of the Vietnam War."[4][5] Among his many decorations are 3 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars with Valor, 4 Army Commendation Medals, 5 Purple Hearts and 5 Air Medals (one each for every 5th mission which involved a helicopter).[5][16]

Otero Barreto has been called "the most decorated Puerto Rican veteran,"[6] and the news media[4] and various organizations[17] have called him "the most decorated soldier in the Vietnam War."[4] Whatever the case, Otero Barreto remains one of the most decorated Vietnam War veterans, and possibly the most decorated U.S. soldier in the Vietnam War living today.[18][19]

Recognitions[edit | edit source]

On 22 June 2012, Otero Barreto was the keynote speaker at a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dinner in Lorain, Ohio.[20] On 1 September 2006, the Coalición Nacional Puertorriqueña (National Puerto Rican Coalition) honored Otero Barreto with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" in a Conference held at the Hotel Hilton of Chicago. The keynote speaker was U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez.[21][22]

A transitional home for veterans in Springfield, Massachusetts, the SFC Jorge Otero-Barreto Homeless Veterans Transitional Home, was also named after Otero Barreto.[23] The home is managed by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #866 in Springfield, Massachusetts. The home is part of a program named named the "Jorge Otero Barreto Homeless Veterans Transitional Program" which houses twelve (12) veterans. The program offers counseling, DVA services from the Western Massachusetts Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center, assistance in obtaining Chapter 115 financial assistance, AA/NA meetings, and Christian Rehabilitation Substance Abuse meetings.[6][24]

The town of Vega Baja dedicated its military museum to Otero Barreto and named it the "Jorge Otero Barreto Museum."[25] On 2 October 2011, Otero Barreto was named Vegabajeño del Año en Civismo (Civic Citizen of Year of Vega Baja).[26] Otero Barreto was featured in the documentary film Brave Lords, a perspective on the war in Vietnam, as experienced by Puerto Rican soldiers.[27]

Military decorations[edit | edit source]

Among SFC Otero Barreto's military decorations:[13]



See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. U.S. Department of Commerce. Office of the Census. 1940 United States Census Records. "Censo Décimosexto de los Estados Unidos: 1940 - Población: Puerto Rico. (Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940 - Population Schedule: Puerto Rico)." Municipality: Vega Baja. Barrio: Pueblo. Township: Aldea Sánchez López. Census Taker: Isabel Oliveras de Pérez. Date: 5 April 1940. Sheet: 6-B. Rows 71, 72, and 75. The National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NorthWest, Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  2. Jorge A. Otero-Barreto (b. April 07, 1937). Ancestry.com. 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  3. "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. http://web.archive.org/web/20100609010022/http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/spdes-123-ra_ar.html. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 War veterans recognized at Fort Buchanan. Rafael R. Díaz Torres. Puerto Rico Daily Sun. 12 November 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Remarks of Major General Orlando Llenza, USAF (Ret.), Delivered to the Puerto Rico Bar Association of Florida, 6th Annual Gala, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Major General Orlando Llenza. 25 October 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Membership Notes. December 2000/January 2001. Vietnam Veterans of America. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Commerce 19402
  8. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named familytreemaker.genealogy.com2
  9. 9.0 9.1 Sargento Jorge Otero Barreto. Hispanidad: Nuestros Heroes. Univision Online. 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  10. Sargento Jorge Otero Barreto: Es el soldado boricua más condecorado. Hispanidad: Nuestros Paises. Univision. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  11. Most Decorated US Soldier in Vietnam War. Profiles in Courage. Latino Alliance. 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  12. Puerto Rican veteran shares tales of Vietnam. The Morning Journal.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Documentary decoration gallery. Joe Felix. Brave Lords, The Documentary Film: A perspective of the war in Vietnam as experienced by Puerto Rican soldiers. Brave Lords Productions. New York, New York. 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  14. Sargento Jorge Otero Barreto. Hispanidad: Nuestros Heroes. Univision Online. 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  15. Acceptance In U.S. Role A Long March For Veterans. Mike Swift. Hartford Courant. 28 March 1996. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  16. Most Decorated US Soldier in Vietnam War. Latino Alliance. Latino Alliance Profiles in Courage! 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  17. Most Decorated US Soldier in Vietnam War. Latino Alliance. 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012
  18. Hometown hero is Spirit honoree: Capt. Joe Hooper most-decorated Vietnam War vet. Huntsville Times. 4 July 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  19. Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert L. Howard dies at 70. T. Rees Shapiro. Washington Post. 23 January 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  20. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dinner. Lorain County Vietnam War Fallen Heroes Recogintion Dinner. Calendar. City of Lorain, Ohio. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  21. Realizan encuentro boricua en Chicago. El Diario-La Prensa. New York, NY 09/01/2006.
  22. NPRC Reception, Dinner and Dance: “Un Encuentro Entre Familia”. Fiesta Boricua. La Voz del Paseo Boricua. July–August 2006. Vol 3. Number 4. Page 11. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  23. Outreach/Vet Centers & Transition Houses. The Bay State Veteran. August 2012 Newsletter. Page 4. The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA). Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  24. Jorge Otero Barreto Homeless Veterans Transitional Home. Bilingual Veterans Outreach Centers of Massachusetts, Inc. Springfield, Mass. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  25. Municipalities / Vega Baja: Places of Interest. Puerto Rico Encyclopedia. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  26. Vegabajeño del Año en Civismo. Diario Vegabajeño. Vega Baja News, Inc. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  27. Brave Lords: The Documentary Film: A perspective of the war in Vietnam, as experienced by Puerto Rican soldiers. Joe Felix. Brave Lords Productions. New York, New York. 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012.

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