Jorge Otero-Barreto

Military Branch
Interviewed by
Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Date of interview
Place of interview city
Place of interview state

In 1959, a young Jorge Otero Barreto stood up to his mother, telling her he would marry his girlfriend and would not attend medical school in Spain. Instead, he joined the Army.

It was a choice that would have long-term repercussions, setting him on a course that would take him on five tours of duty and 200 missions in Vietnam (1961-1970). He was awarded 38 military decorations, including three Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, five Purple Hearts, four Army Commendation Medals; and five Air Medals. He would become known as the “most decorated soldier in the Vietnam War.” For his exploits, he became known as "Sgt. Rock" and "the Puerto Rican Rambo."

Otero Barreto was born April 7, 1937, in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, the oldest of eight children -- and the only son -- born to a middle-class family.

After joining the military, Otero Barreto became the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the Army’s Air Assault School in 1960; he served with the 101st Airborne, the 25th Infantry, the 82nd Airborne and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

“I wanted to be the best, or at least next to the best,” he said, signifying his willingness to push himself. “I was willing to kill; I was also willing to die. I didn’t have no choice.”

Individuals and organizations have been advocating for Otero Barreto to receive a Medal of Honor to better reflect his record.

He and Tomasa Bujana Rodriguez de Otero married in 1961 and had four children.