Juan de Dios Aldea

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Statue of Juan de Dios Aldea on the Monument to the Heroes of the Iquique, Valparaíso

Juan de Dios Aldea (1853–1879) was a Chilean sailor. His remains rest in the crypt of the Monument to the Heroes of the Battle of Iquique, in Valparaíso.

He was born in a modest family. He was the son of professor Jose Manuel Aldea and Ursula Fonseca. His childhood was spent in Santiago with his paternal grandparents, Juan de Dios Aldea and Maria Antonieta Contreras. At the age of 8 he enrolled in the Franciscan School of Chillán, directed by his father, where he distinguished himself with his excellent handwriting and his evident interest for military exercises.

After living for four years with his aunt, on August 1, 1872, he enrolled as a volunteer soldier in the Financial Commission sent by the Navy's Artillery Battalion; an organization located in Valparaiso which depended on the General Command of the Chilean Navy. In this battalion, he also served as a chief.

He stayed in the First Company of that battalion for two years. In April 1874 he was sent on commission to Valdivia and on May 11 was promoted to 2nd Corporal.

On January 1, 1876 he was promoted to 1st Corporal, and a year later to 2nd Sergeant.

In June 1877 he boards the corvette "Esmeralda" In February 1878 he is transferred to the pontoon "Thalaba," and, after staying a month, he returns to the First Company of the Battalion. In October he came back to "Thalaba" and in December returned to the Company of the Battalion, being transferred to the post of Guard of the Municipality of Valparaíso.

Due to his impeccable service record, upon the declaration of the War of the Pacific, he is transferred to the corvette "Esmeralda".

On May 21, 1879, he found himself on board the "Esmeralda", which, along with the "Covadonga", completed the blockade of the Peruvian port of Iquique. After the crow's nest of the "Covadonga" spotted the Peruvian ships "Huascar" and "Independencia", Aldea found the Esmerelda's gunners and took over their combat post. After an hour of combat the first ramming by the "Huascar" occurs, ordered by Commander Miguel Grau Seminario.

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