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Jorge Otero Barreto

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Jorge Otero Barreto
J Otero.jpg
Sergeant First Class Jorge Otero Barreto
Nickname(s)The Puerto Rican Rambo
"Sergeant Rock"
Born (1937-04-07) 7 April 1937 (age 84)[1]
Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchEmblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service1959–1970
RankArmy-USA-OR-07.svg Sergeant First Class
Unit101AirborneDivCSIB.jpg 101st Airborne
25th Infantry Division.patch.png 25th Infantry
82nd Airborne Division CSIB.svg 82nd Airborne

173Airborne Brigade Shoulder Patch.png 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team

Battles/warsVietnam War (WIA)
AwardsSilver Star Medal ribbon.svg Silver Star Medal (2)
Bronze Star Medal ribbon with "V" device, 3rd award.svg Bronze Star Medal (5) w/ "V" Device
Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal (5)
ArmyComRib.png Army Commendation Medal (4)
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart Medal (5)

Sergeant First Class Jorge A. Otero Barreto (born 7 April 1937), a.k.a. "the Puerto Rican Rambo" and "Sergeant Rock",[2][3] is a retired United States Army soldier. He earned 38 military decorations during his career, and has been called the most decorated U.S. soldier of the Vietnam War.[4][2][3][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.[7][8]

Early years[edit]

Otero Barreto was born in the town of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, the son of Eloy Otero-Bruno and Crispina Barreto-Torres.[1] His father named him "Jorge", Spanish for George, after George Washington whom Otero-Bruno admired. 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, which he chose over medical school in Spain.[9] After his basic training, he continued to train with the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, graduating in 1960.[10] He was the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the 101st Airborne Division training.[4]

Vietnam War[edit]

From 1961 to 1970, Otero Barreto served five tours in Southeast Asia,[11] starting as an advisor who helped train Vietnamese troops.[2][3][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.[2][3] He participated in 200 combat missions,[2][3] was wounded five times in combat,[13] and was awarded 38 military decorations,[14] making him "the most decorated soldier of the Vietnam War."[4][2][3][5] Among his many decorations are 2 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][15][7][8]

Referred to as Puerto Rican Rambo or Sergeant Rock,[9] Otero Barreto has been called "the most decorated Puerto Rican veteran,"[6] and the news media[2][3] and various organizations[16] have called him "the most decorated soldier in the Vietnam War."[2][3] 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.[17][18][7][8]

Silver Star citations[edit]

Silver Star medal.png

Jorge Otero-Barreto
Battalion: 1st Battalion (Airborne)
Division: 101st Airborne Division

Platoon Sergeant Jorge Otero-Barreto (ASN: RA-50156967), United States Army, was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with Company A, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 502d Infantry Regiment, 101st Air Cavalry Division, in the Republic of Vietnam. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.[19]
Silver Star medal.png

Jorge Otero-Barreto
Battalion: 1st Battalion (Airborne)
Division: 101st Airborne Division
Headquarters, 101st Airborne Division, General Orders No. 4587 (August 11, 1968)

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star to Platoon Sergeant Jorge Otero-Barreto (ASN: RA-50156967), United States Army, for gallantry in action in the Republic of Vietnam on 1 May 1968. Platoon Sergeant Otero distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader on a combat operation in the Republic of Vietnam. Company A, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 502d Infantry Regiment, 101st Air Cavalry Division, was occupying defensive positions around a village north of Hue, Republic of Vietnam. The village was occupied by elements of the 8th Battalion, 90th North Vietnamese Army Regiment and had defied all offensive attempts for two days. Because of clear weather, the enemy had been subject to constant air strikes and artillery. At 0415 hours, the enemy began a series of human wave attacks against Company A in a desperate attempt to break out of the village. After the human wave assaults had twice been driven back and fifty-eight enemy lay dead, the enemy forces withdrew into the village for their final stand. The first platoon led Company A into the village to destroy the remainder of the North Vietnamese Army forces and Sergeant Otero was the leader of the point element of the first platoon. Suddenly the point came under fire from rocket propelled grenades, machine guns, and small arms firing from enemy bunkers and spider holes. With complete disregard for his own safety, Platoon Sergeant Otero immediately assaulted the nearest machine gun emplacement and killed all three of its crew members. He then led his squad through enemy fire in assaulting three more enemy positions, overrunning them and killing or incapacitating all of the enemy. Platoon Sergeant Otero swiftly moved his squad to occupy vacated enemy positions and place effective fire on the remaining enemy so that other Company A platoons could maneuver. Platoon Sergeant Otero's extraordinary heroism in close combat against a numerically superior force was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.[20]


On 22 June 2012, Otero Barreto was the keynote speaker at a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dinner in Lorain, Ohio.[21] 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.[22][23]

A transitional home for veterans in Springfield, Massachusetts, the SFC Jorge Otero-Barreto Homeless Veterans Transitional Home, was also named after Otero Barreto.[24] The home is managed by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #866 in Springfield, Massachusetts. The home is part of a program 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][25]

The town of Vega Baja dedicated its military museum to Otero Barreto and named it the "Jorge Otero Barreto Museum."[26] On 2 October 2011, Otero Barreto was named Vegabajeño del Año en Civismo (Civic Citizen of Year of Vega Baja).[27] Otero Barreto was featured in the documentary film Brave Lords, a perspective on the war in Vietnam, as experienced by Puerto Rican soldiers.[28]

In June 2016, Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson gave Otero Barreto the "Distinguished Member of the 502nd Infantry Regiment" honoring him for his valor in the Vietnam War and stating he was alive because of Otero Barreto. Otero Barreto's name is one of a handful of names displayed on a wall at the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Fort Campbell in Kentucky.[29]

Military decorations[edit]

Among SFC Otero Barreto's military decorations:[30]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
"V" device, brass.svgSilver oakleaf-3d.svg
"V" device, brass.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Silver oak leaf cluster
1st Row Silver Star Medal
with one bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal
with "V" device and one silver oak leaf cluster
2nd Row Army Commendation Medal
with "V" device and four oak leaf clusters
Purple Heart
with four silver oak leaf clusters
Air Medal
with one silver oak leaf cluster
3rd Row Army Good Conduct Medal
with three Good conduct loops
National Defense Service Medal Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
4th Row Vietnam Service Medal
with four bronze Service stars
Vietnam Campaign Medal Vietnam Gallantry Cross
1st Row Army Superior Unit Award
2nd Row Presidential Unit Citation Valorous Unit Award Meritorious Unit Commendation
3rd Row Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation


  • Combat Infantry Badge.svg  Combat Infantryman Badge
  • US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif  Basic Parachutist badge
  • AirAssault.svg  Air Assault Badge (Created in 1974 as the Airmobile Badge, it was renamed the Air Assault Badge later that same year.)[31]
  • ArmyAvitBadge.gif  Basic Aviation Badge
  • US Army Expert Marksmanship Qualification Badge-Generic.png Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic Puerto Rico : List of primary statistical areas of the United States, Ramón Núñez-Juárez, Angel Mendez, José L. Santiago, Frances M. Vega, Efe Rosario, Hila Levy
Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "".Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "".

  • List of Puerto Ricans
  • List of Puerto Rican military personnel
  • Puerto Ricans in the Vietnam War


  1. 1.0 1.1 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. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "Sergeant First Class Jorge Otero Barreto". American Greatness. Archived from the original on 29 January 2016. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Brave Lords
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Res17_02_Barreto_MOH" (PDF). LULAC. National Assembly of the 2017 LULAC National Convention. 2017-07-08. Retrieved 2021-01-09.
  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. Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Major General Orlando Llenza. 25 October 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Membership Notes. Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine December 2000/January 2001. Vietnam Veterans of America. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Affluent Times
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Affuent Times 2
  9. 9.0 9.1 "VOCES Oral History Center - Jorge Otero-Barreto". The University of Texas at Austin. 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2021-01-09.
  10. Sargento Jorge Otero Barreto: Es el soldado boricua más condecorado. Hispanidad: Nuestros Paises. Univision. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  11. 14th Flying training Wing Public Affairs (2020-11-20). "A legacy of service" (PDF). Silver Wings. Vol. 44 no. 22. Retrieved 2021-01-09.
  12. Puerto Rican veteran shares tales of Vietnam.; The Morning Journal; January 2014; https://www.morningjournal.com/news/puerto-rican-veteran-shares-tales-of-vietnam/article_4e8a0d23-27dd-5d79-beac-d36c938cf23a.html
  13. "Compassionate Rambo". The American Legion. 2021-01-08. Retrieved 2021-01-09.
  14. Acceptance In U.S. Role A Long March For Veterans. Mike Swift. Hartford Courant. 28 March 1996. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  15. Most Decorated US Soldier in Vietnam War. Archived 17 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine Latino Alliance. Latino Alliance Profiles in Courage! 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  16. Most Decorated US Soldier in Vietnam War. Archived 17 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine Latino Alliance. 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012
  17. Hometown hero is Spirit honoree: Capt. Joe Hooper most-decorated Vietnam War vet. Archived 31 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine Huntsville Times. 4 July 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  18. Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert L. Howard dies at 70. T. Rees Shapiro. Washington Post. 23 January 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  19. Silver Star medal citation
  20. Otero Barreto's 2nd Silver Star medal citation
  21. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dinner. Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Lorain County Vietnam War Fallen Heroes Recognition Dinner. Calendar. City of Lorain, Ohio. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  22. [Realizan encuentro boricua en Chicago.; El Diario-La Prensa. New York, NY 09/01/2006.]
  23. [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.
  24. Outreach/Vet Centers & Transition Houses.;]The Bay State Veteran. August 2012 Newsletter. Page 4. The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA). Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  25. Jorge Otero Barreto Homeless Veterans Transitional Home. Bilingual Veterans Outreach Centers of Massachusetts, Inc. Springfield, Mass. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  26. Municipalities / Vega Baja: Places of Interest. Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Puerto Rico Encyclopedia. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  27. [Vegabajeño del Año en Civismo. Diario Vegabajeño. Vega Baja News, Inc. 11 October 2009.] Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  28. 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.
  29. Howard, Henry (2016-06-24). "Reconocimiento al vegabajeño Jorge Otero". Archivo del Diario Vegabajeño de Puerto Rico Segunda Etapa de Diciembre 2012 a Octubre 2016 (in español). Retrieved 2021-01-09.
  30. 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.
  31. "Department Of The Army". Airassault.bizhosting.com. 1974-02-01.

Further reading[edit]

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