Pedro Ramos Santana

By Gabriela Chabolla

One of 14 children born to parents who worked on a sugar plantation in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Pedro Ramos Santana built his life around hard work and accountability.

His father worked in the field, while his mother tended to the house of a woman named Nena Sabater. Ramos and his nine brothers and four sisters learned the value of hard work at an early age.

“(My parents) told me that a man’s worth is determined by two things,” said Ramos in Spanish, “his integrity and his word. I walked this world with this doctrine.”

Carmen García-Rosado

By Eduardo Miranda, California State University, Fullerton

While World War II was underway thousands of miles away, Carmen García Rosado, a young schoolteacher who lived in Caguas, Puerto Rico, saw in a local newspaper that the U.S. Army wanted to recruit Puerto Rican women to support the war effort.

Her curiosity piqued by the prospect of joining the military, García-Rosado made a decision that would change her life. She went on to be one of the 200 Puerto Rican women who traveled to the United States to serve with the Women Army Corps (WAC).

Antonia Santana

By Cindy Tapia, California State University, Fullerton

When you think about heroes, people that left everything they had to fight a war, you usually think about strong, buff men. But women also have served in the military along side of men.

One such woman was Antonia Santana.

Santana was raised in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. As a young girl she lived with her parents, five sisters, two brothers and her two grandmothers. She said 11 people living under the same roof was not as chaotic as one would think.

German Abadia-Olmeda

By Ximena Mejorado

Cal State, Fullerton

When he got his draft notice at the age of 18, Germán Abadía’s first thought was to go into hiding.

The Puerto Rican native said he did not understand why he needed to go to Vietnam to fight a war, which he knew nothing about. His mother, Gilia Olmeda, changed his mind. If he was called to the Army, he had to go or he would be jailed, he recalled her telling him.

Juan Modesto Sanchez-Acevedo

By Melissa Macaya

One of the most vivid memories of the Vietnam War for Modesto Sanchez occurred moments before he boarded the ship that would take him to war and change his life forever.

“President Lyndon B. Johnson passed by to check on the troops and he asked me, ‘Where you from Sanchez?’ and I answered, ‘From Aguada, Puerto Rico, Mr. President,’” Sanchez said. “Meeting the president is one of the greatest things I could have experienced in the war.”

Joaquin Amorós Santiago

By Jenny Achilles

Fighting alongside his fellow Puerto Ricans in the 65th Infantry Regiment during World War II, Joaquin Amorós Santiago left a heritage that touches the lives of all children and grandchildren of those of the “Greatest Generation.”

Amorós fought in WWII in the 65th Infantry from Puerto Rico. He says he fought for what he believed in and thanked the Lord when he returned home safely.

José A. Rivera

By Melissa Ayala

A devastating bomb on the other side of the Pacific Ocean and, the war was over for Jose Rivera and the rest of the world.

When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, destroying that Japanese city, Rivera was stationed in the Galapagos Islands as a driver with U.S. Special Services. It was near the end of his two years of service during World War II.

The youngest of three sons, Rivera was born in Lares, Puerto Rico, in the mountainous western interior of the Caribbean island, on March 1, 1920.

Gonzalo Villanueva

By Doralís Perez-Soto

The only time Gonzalo Villanueva has been away for any extended period from his neighborhood in Arecibo, Puerto, Rico, was during World War II, when he served in North Africa, France, Italy and Germany. He even jokes he’ll live in his hometown until he goes to the grave.

Before going off to war, he went to school in his neighborhood, Dominguito, until the seventh grade. He couldn’t get into the eighth grade because of his father’s politics.

Fernando I. Pagan

By Juan De La Cruz

Fernando Pagan was a jack of all trades during his childhood in Puerto Rico.

At the age of 12, Pagan shined shoes every Sunday in Carolina, Puerto Rico; on Saturdays, he sold clothes for a wage of $2 and breakfast. Later, he worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant.

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