‘Puerto Rican Rambo’ went on over 200 combat missions, 38 Decorations: SFC Jorge Otero-Barreto

Jun 04 , 2022

‘Puerto Rican Rambo’ went on over 200 combat missions, 38 Decorations: SFC Jorge Otero-Barreto

Eloy Otero-Bruno and Crispina Barreto-Torres welcomed a son into the world on April 7, 1937, in the small municipality of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, just west of San Juan.

When they gave him a name inspired by his father’s admiration for America’s first president, the family had no idea that little Jorge would one day be something of an American icon in his own right, a status earned after becoming one of the most decorated soldiers of the Vietnam War.

After pursuing biology studies for three years in college, Jorge Otero-Barreto joined the Army in 1959. One year later, he made history when he became the first Puerto Rican to ever graduate from the Army’s Air Assault School.

Within a year of completing training, Otero was volunteering to go to Vietnam, the first of five deployments he would make between 1961 and 1970, during which time he would serve with the 101st Airborne, the 82nd Airborne, and the 25th Infantry Division, among others.

Otero would volunteer for approximately 200 combat missions during his five deployments, a lofty number that eventually earned him the moniker, “The Puerto Rican Rambo,” after the fictional death-dealing character made famous by actor Sylvester Stallone.

Over the course of five deployments, Otero-Barreto would earn 38 commendations, including three Silver Stars, five Purple Hearts, five Bronze Stars, five Air Medals and four Army Commendation Medals.

One commendation was earned for actions on May 1, 1968, when the platoon sergeant, along with men from the 101st Air Cavalry Division, was occupying positions designed to pin down a North Vietnamese regiment in a village near the deadly city of Hue.

Early that morning, Otero and his men began getting bombarded by a series of charges by enemy soldiers desperate to rid themselves of their predicament.

Two charges by enemy soldiers were repelled by U.S. troops. Fifty-eight enemies were killed in the charges, and the assailants were forced to limp back to the village.

Rather than wait for another assault, Otero took 1st Platoon, Company A, to the point position to lead an assault on the village.

Quickly into their advance, first platoon began taking machine gun, small arms, and rocket-propelled grenade fire from a scattering of spider holes and bunkers.

The Puerto Rican Rambo wasted no time in going to work.

Otero sprinted to the nearest machine gun bunker and quickly killed the three men manning the position.

Gathering the rest of his squad, Otero then moved through three more fortified enemy bunkers, going from one to the next until all that remained was a trail of destruction.

The assault by Otero, which allowed the rest of Company A’s platoons to maneuver into advantageous positions and overrun the enemy, would earn him one of his three Silver Stars.

While the conclusion of Vietnam would mark the end of his career in combat, it would not be the last of Otero’s many lifetime achievements.

In 2006, he was named the recipient of the National Puerto Rican Coalition’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Since then, he has had veterans homes and museums named for him, and in 2011, was honored in his hometown when the city named the Puerto Rican Rambo its citizen of the year.

Jorge Otero-Barreto

 

HOME OF RECORD:
Port Buchanan, Puerto Rico

 

Silver Star

AWARDED FOR ACTIONS
DURING Vietnam War
Service: Army
Battalion: 1st Battalion (Airborne)
Division: 101st Air Cavalry Division
GENERAL ORDERS:

Headquarters, 101st Air Cavalry Division, General Orders No. 4587 (August 11, 1968)

CITATION:

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.


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9 Comments

  • 04 Jun 2022 DENNIS S C YUEN

    It i a Racial thing. If he was a White man he would be given the CMH. Contact Congress and request that a Review of his military record be done to see if he qualifies for the CMH.

  • 04 Jun 2022 Jason

    The book First Blood about John Rambo came out in 1972 Rambo character by Sly is based on that

  • 04 Jun 2022 Alex Sostre

    SFC Jorge Otero had been my life mentor.
    His wife is my mother elder sister, so I grew up listening to Vietnam store and dreaming to become a soldier.

    After “Nam” he spent his life helping young kids to be out of the street by including them on his basketball teams and helping other fellow Veterans to get DAV service and benefits.

  • 04 Jun 2022 Jose Rivera

    Jorge Otero, a real Puerto Rican hero, not a fictional character like Rambo. He should be honored with the CMH.

  • 04 Jun 2022 Hipolito

    BOOOORRRRRRIIIIICUAAAAA!!!!! Respect 🫡



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