Who am I?
My name is Tony a.k.a. "Tony the Marine". I am the Editor of the Puerto Rican Military History Channel of "El Boricua" a monthly cultural magazine, a Staff writer in "Somos Primos" an internet magazine dedicated to "Hispanic Heritage and Diversity Issues" and served as the Official Historian of the Association of Naval Services Officers. I also serve on the national steering committee of Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance and serve in the Latino Alliance Advisory Board. On August 10, 2010, the former Secretary of State of Puerto Rico Kenneth D. McClintock, during the welcoming Remarks at the Memorial Wall before the Presidential National Commission on the American Latino Museum in Puerto Rico, referred to me as "Puerto Rico’s foremost military historian" which I consider an honor.
976 Simpson Street, Building where I was raised and which has been conserved by the City of NY
I was born the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, in New York, New York, more specifically in the South Bronx area where being a gang member was a way of life. I was raised in the mean streets (Simpson St.) of New York where I was a member of a gang called "The Torchmen" a branch of the "Crowns". When my family moved to Cambria Heights, Queens I created and led a gang called "The Vikings". Some people used to call me "The Man with the Gun".
When I was a child growing up in New York City, the only heroes that we "Hispanics" (note: that term hadn't even been coined then) had were "El Zorro", The "Cisco Kid" and "Speedy Gonzalez". Our history books failed to make mention of the numerous contributions which Hispanics have made to the formation of our country. I didn't know about our participation in the Revolutionary War nor about our heroes in the Civil War. As I grew older, I became aware that our people produced good singers and that in some cases some Hispanics were given minor stereotyped roles in Hollywood and that we had a Desi Arnaz who was in love with Lucy in the television sitcom "I love Lucy", but that was it.
I was accepted in Columbia University but, instead I decided that I wanted to be a Marine. It was an era in American history when the country was in deep turmoil with the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. I am a Vietnam War Veteran who was an active member of the United States Marine Corps from 1969 to 1971 and in the reserves until 1975. During my service I witnessed how many disparities there were between "White" (Anglo) soldiers and soldiers of ethnic minorities, I formed a group of soldiers within my company called Latin Power In Unity which included Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Central Americans and others. My friend and comrade Leroy Reese formed the Black Power group. Our groups worked closely towards the better treatment of minorities with the intention of improving the relationship between the members of the different races in our company (H&S Co., 2/9 3rd. Marine Division). I also served in the Corps Military Police.
Tony the Marine and his wife Milly
This, in turn, led me to view U.S. politics on Puerto Rico differently. It also made me curious of my roots. I can honestly say that I am proud to be a Puerto Rican. I never returned to New York, I rather flew to San Juan, where I was supposed to visit my father for two weeks before returning home, but I met my future wife, Milagros (my dad's neighbor, see: The Marine and the Girl Next Door), while in Puerto Rico, and ended up staying for twenty years. Because of what I saw, I am a strong believer that Puerto Rico should become an independent nation. At first, I became a follower of the ideals of the Puerto Rican Independence Party headed by Ruben Berrios, however now I believe that the PIP lacks true leadership and does not have an effective program which reaches out to the common person explaining the importance of saving our national identity. Does this make me a bad person? No, unless George Washington, Simon Bolivar and Ramón Emeterio Betances (not that I compare myself to them) were bad persons. Does this make me an anti-American? No, I was born in the U.S., served in the U.S.M.C. and my grandchildren are half "Anglo". I am not a politician nor am I interested in politics. I just believe that every nation has a right to its independence. As Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, once said:
- Abraham Lincoln April 6, 1859 -
"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."
My introduction to Wikipedia
I enrolled in the Interamerican University where my major was Business Administration with a minor in accounting. I am proud to say that I was a magna cum laude honor student. I graduated from the Puerto Rican Real Estate Academy and studied at the American Banking Institute. I studied computer programing in the Polytechnical Institute of Caguas, Puerto Rico. I was the owner of a wholesale business and of other ventures.
It was Antonio, my son, who inspired me to become interested in this project. My main objective in Wikipedia is to educate others by writing mini-bios about the accomplishments of famous Puerto Ricans and of people of Puerto Rican descent. I also write articles related to Puerto Rican History, the history which most people have either forgotten or have tried to omit from our history books. I have also set it upon myself as a goal to write about the positive contributions which Hispanics of all nationalities have made to the United States and the world in general.
Experiences with Wikipedia
Writting in Wikipedia has provided me with many positive experiences and recognitions, which I would like to share.
(L-R)Tony the Marine, W.Kouts and D.Gonzales, Jr.
On March 20, 2007 , Maribeth Kouts, daughter of William Walter Kouts, began an extensive Internet search for the family of David M. Gonzales, the Medal of Honor recipient who saved her father's life in World War II , and she posted the following message on Wikipedia:
"My father, William Kouts, was the soldier David M. Gonzales was digging out when he was shot and killed by sniper fire. My Dad is 85 and in ill health and we want to get into contact with the Gonzales family before Dad's passing so that Dad can tell David Jr. of his father's heroics firsthand. Mbkouts."
I responded to the message and told Maribeth that I would try to help her in their quest. I sent e-mails to Congressman Howard Berman and telephoned every David Gonzales in the Los Angeles area without any luck. I then placed a message in Somos Primos, a Hispanic heritage cultural magazine, for which I write and on April 11, 2007, I made contact with Ernestine Gonzales, cousin of David Gonzales Jr. and, as a result, both families met in the Atlanta suburb of Powder Springs, Georgia for the first time on May 24, 2007. The event brought closure to over 60 years of searching for the relatives of David M. Gonzales on behalf of William W. Kouts. Said Beatrice Gonzales, David's daughter-in-law, "We feel so much peace because David's father died to save a very good man who lived a good life." "We owe so much to Mr. Santiago," said Maribeth Kouts. On May 27, 2007, I was featured in The Arizona Republic under the headlines “A medal, a debt, both of honor”.
Members of the Puerto Rican Senate pay tribute to Tony (The Marine) Santiago
The biographies about Puerto Rican soldiers which I have written in Wikipedia have helped to get the names of some Puerto Rican soldiers who perished in combat inscribed in “El Monumento de la Recordación” in Puerto Rico. On November 28, 2007, I became the first Puerto Rican to be honored by the Government of Puerto Rico for my work on behalf of Puerto Rico in Wikipedia when the Senate of Puerto Rico recognized me as a military historian and paid me tribute with a Resolution #3603. The resolution was presented at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel by then President of the Senate of Puerto Rico and now former Secretary of State, the Honorable Kenneth McClintock and Senators Lucy Arce, Juan Eugenio Hernández Mayoral and Jorge Suárez Cáceres on behalf of the people of Puerto Rico. On January 30, 2008, I was featured in the ’’Phoenix Republic’’ in an article titled “Author details contributions of Puerto Ricans". 
I was invited to the Puerto Rican Capitol Building and in the presence of my wife Milagros, members of the Puerto Rican Senate and the House of Representatives, was presented with a gift by the then President of the Puerto Rican Senate, the Honorable Kenneth McClintock. Also, present in my recognition was the former President of the United States Bill Clinton, his wife, then the junior United States Senator from New York and current Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton and their daughter Chelsea Clinton. Brigadier General Hector E. Pagan, the Deputy Commanding General of the United States Army Special Warfare Center and School, presented me with the USAJFKSWCS Medal of Excellence. During the ceremonies, McClintock made the following public statement:
"Today, the Senate of Puerto Rico, in addition to honoring our fallen, also recognizes one of the living, a Puerto Rican who after serving as a Marine in Vietnam, is making sure that no fallen comrade is left behind, and that none are forgotten. His academic training is not that of a historian, but in recent years he has become Puerto Rico's most widely-read writer of the heroic accounts of Puerto Rico's military men and women. Several of the names on that wall are there thanks to his research. That man, Antonio Santiago, also known as Tony the Marine, is here today and I wish for him to stand up and be recognized with the applause of Puerto Ricans grateful that he has not allowed his comrades to be forgotten. Tony ..."
In "Te quiero Puerto Rico, Primaria Presidencial Democrata 2008", a book published in 2010,, McClintock and co-author Roberto Prats described my meeting with President and Senator Clinton, indicating that, while the national media that followed them from a previous engagement in Ponce, Puerto Rico set up their equipment, they visited the Senate President's office, where they "mingled with statehood and PDP leaders and with the person to whom the activities of the day were dedicated, veteran and Puerto Rican military historian Antonio 'Tony the Marine' Santiago."
On August 10, 2010, Secretary of State of Puerto Rico Kenneth D. McClintock made the welcoming remarks at the Memorial Wall before the Presidential National Commission on the American Latino Museum in Puerto Rico where he declared me to be Puerto Rico’s foremost military historian
In December 2012, the Wikipedia Foundation honored me by including a short profile of me in their "Meet the Wikipedians".
Other recognitions as a Wikipedian
I was recognized in a speech given by Mr. Javier De la Luz, then Chief of Staff of Luis G. Fortuño, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the United States Congress and now Governor of Puerto Rico, during the ceremonies held in front of the Capitol Building in which the names of Puerto Rico's fallen soldiers were unveiled. Luis G. Fortuño stated the following:
"Mr. President, I am also pleased that you are honoring former Marine Antonio Santiago, who has devoted himself to preserving the history and accomplishments of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. military"
On June 8, 2009, the Chief of the Maintenance Managemnt, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd.) United States Marine Corps, the late Cpl. Robert P. Lemiszki (R.I.P.), honored me with a letter, which recognized my ongoing contributions to the military community, and with a United States Flag which was flown over the 2nd Marine Aircraft (Fwd) Headquarters, Marine Air Base, Al Asad, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On October 5, 2009, I was honored by Brigadier General Rafael O'Ferrall, the Deputy Commanding General for the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with the "Commander's Coin for Excellence" together with a certificate which states:
Tony the Marine, Thank you for your watch of Puerto Rico's values and history, it is people like you who maintain alive our customs and traditions.
The Commander's Coin for Excellence is an impact award given by the Joint Task Force Commander to those soldiers and civilians he deems worthy of immediate recognition. On August 28, 2012, the "Latino Alliance" named me a "Champion of Character".
Official Documents of Recognitions
Senate of Puerto Rico Resolution #3603
Speech by U.S. Congressman Luis Fortuño, page 1
Speech by U.S. Congressman Luis Fortuño, page 2
2008 Memorial Day Speech page 1
2008 Memorial Day Speech page 2
2008 Memorial Day Speech page 3
Satisfactions as a Wikipedian
One of the satisfactions which I have received as a writer in Wikipedia is being able to post and share the discoveries which I have made through my research. An example of this is when I discovered that Lt. Augusto Rodriguez was a Puerto Rican who served in the American Civil War.  The importance of this discovery is that it was believed that Puerto Ricans had not served in the United States military prior to World War I. In April 2010, I wrote about Rodriguez in Wikipedia and on Veteran’s Day 2013, Rafael Cruz Miller, owner of “Radio Esfuerzo Estadista” and a group representing the Puerto Rican community in Connecticut placed a floral arrangement in a ceremony which recognized Rodriguez as Puerto Rico’s first known U.S. Armed Forces veteran.
Not only do I have the satisfaction of sharing my knowledge with the rest of the world, but I have also been fortunate enough to have the "Arizona Republic" publish some of the photos which I have uploaded in Wikipedia in a feature about local historic properties. Thereby, allowing me to share the images of places that I have seen with others who may never have the opportunity to do so.
I also want to share that I received a book titled "Puertorriqueños Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor" by: Greg Boudonck" where the pages 141 to 147 were about me. It was a total surprise, because I did not expect such an honor. I only expected a special mention because I provided some info. on some Puerto Rican military heroes which I had written about in Wikipedia.
All said and done, what I'm trying to say is that your work as well as mine in Wikipedia matters and is very important because you can educate others. You can make a difference in the lives of many people and contribute to the perspective that some people have about others.
My wife's name is Milly and I am the proud father of Antonio, Jose and Nilda, and the grandfather of four beautiful grandchildren named Isabel, Nina, John Anthony and Savannah.
If you would really like to know why I spend so many hours writing in Wikipedia you may find the answer here: