List of Puerto Ricans missing in action in the Vietnam War

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Puerto Ricans Missing in Action in the Vietnam War
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Location of the island of Puerto Rico (green)

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POW/MIA flag

The United States Department of Defense estimated that approximately there were 18 Puerto Ricans missing in action in the Vietnam War, from a total of 2,338 people that were listed as Missing in Action. This total, with the exception of PFC. Jose Ramon Sanchez, does not include people of Puerto Rican descent born in the mainland of the United States.[1]

Puerto Rico was officially ceded to the United States from Spain under the terms of the 1898 Treaty of Paris which concluded the Spanish–American War. It is a United States territory and upon the outbreak of World War I, the U.S. Congress approved the Jones–Shafroth Act, which granted Puerto Ricans citizenship. As a result, Puerto Ricans have participated in every war involving the United States from World War I onward.[2]

Thousands of Puerto Ricans participated in these wars Many lived and returned to their homeland, others were less fortunate and either died as a result of a hostile enemy action or were listed as MIA (Missing In Action). Missing In Action (abbreviated MIA) is a term (dating from 1946) referring to a member of the armed services who is reported missing following a combat mission and whose status as to injury, capture, or death is unknown. The missing combatant must not have been otherwise accounted for as either killed in action or a prisoner of war.[3] The Vietnam War was one of two wars (the other was the Korean War) which accounted for the most Puerto Ricans missing in action.[4]

Vietnam War[edit]

PFC Humberto Acosta-Rosario-MIA

The Vietnam War was between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRVN, or North Vietnam) and the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, or South Vietnam), which eventually involved their respective allies. In 1959, the United States sent military advisors to train the South Vietnamese Army. By 1965, there were 25,000 military advisors in South Vietnam.."[5] The United States participation in the war continued to escalate until April 30, 1975 when the United States officially declared the war over. During the Vietnam War, an estimated 48,000 Puerto Ricans served in the four branches of the armed forces.[6] Of a total of 345 Puerto Ricans who died in combat, 18 were listed as MIA's. They were all members of the Army with the exceptions of First Lieutenant Jose Hector Ortiz who was the only Puerto Rican MIA member of the United States Air Force and PFC Jose R. Sanchez who was a member of the United States Marine Corps. Of the 18 Puerto Rican MIA's, PFC. Humberto Acosta-Rosario is the only one whose body has never been recovered and is currently still listed as Missing In Action.[7] Friendly forces captured documents from the Vietnam People's Army 7th Infantry Division dated August 23, 1968. The documents were analyzed by US intelligence agencies. The reports documented that Humberto Acosta-Rosario was in fact captured by NVA forces during the battle near the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation. However, the US military chose not to upgrade his status to Prisoner of War.

Acosta-Rosario's name was listed in the USG's (United States Government) "Last Known Alive" list. This list was released by the U.S. Government on April 1991 and it contains the names of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action who were known to be alive in enemy hands and for whom there is no evidence that he or she died in captivity.[8] In March 1978, Acosta-Rosario was declared dead/body not recovered based on a presumptive finding of death.

PFC. Humberto Acosta-Rosario was posthumously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. His name is on panel 47W, line 030 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. and he is also list in El Monumento de la Recordacion located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There is a headstone with his name inscribed Plot: MB 0 6 of Puerto Rican National Cemetery in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.[9]

Puerto Ricans Missing In Action[edit]

The following is a list with the names, ranks, date and place of birth and the date that the person was listed as MIA:[10]

Name Rank Date of birth Place of birth MIA Date
Acosta-Rosario, Humberto E6Staff Sergeant 1947-01-15January 15, 1947 Mayagüez, Puerto Rico 1978-03-01March 1, 1978
Aubain, Joseph Augustín E4.4Specialist 4 1949-10-09October 9, 1949 San Juan, Puerto Rico 1971-11-28November 28, 1971
Burgos Torres, Benjamín E3Private First Class 1950-08-23August 23, 1950 Cayey, Puerto Rico 1971-02-15February 15, 1971
Guzmán-Ríos, Antonio E4.4Specialist 4 1945-04-09April 9, 1945 Corozal, Puerto Rico 1968-05-12May 12, 1968
Irizarry-Hernández, Ángel E4.6Specialist 6 1943-10-02October 2, 1943 Hato Rey, Puerto Rico 1967-10-13October 13, 1967
Kuilan, Wenceslao E6Staff Sergeant 1929-09-28September 28, 1929 Bayamón, Puerto Rico 1966-01-25January 25, 1966
Maldonado-Torres, Lionel E4Corporal 1949-04-21April 21, 1949 Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico 1968-09-17September 17, 1968
Márquez-López, Luis Manuel E7Sergeant First Class 1927-07-20July 20, 1927 Guayama, Puerto Rico 1967-12-13December 13, 1967
Martínez-Zayas, Rubén E4Corporal 1951-02-21February 21, 1951 Salinas, Puerto Rico 1970-08-26August 26, 1970
Medina-Torres, Vincente E8Master Sergeant 1925-01-22January 22, 1925 San Juan, Puerto Rico 1967-04-06April 6, 1967
Miranda-Ortiz, José Luis E6Staff Sergeant 1936-01-28January 28, 1936 Río Piedras, Puerto Rico 1967-11-30November 30, 1967
Ortiz, José Héctor O2First Lieutenant 1946-09-08September 8, 1946 Carolina, Puerto Rico 1970-04-29April 29, 1970
Ortiz-Rodríguez, Ángel E5Sergeant 1941-05-01May 1, 1941 Puerto Rico 1967-03-09March 9, 1967
Quiñones-Borrás, Nicholas O4Major 1935-04-30April 30, 1935 Santurce, Puerto Rico 1972-06-05June 5, 1972
Ramos, Armando E7Sergeant First Class 1921-01-01January 1, 1921 Santurce, Puerto Rico 1966-10-04October 4, 1966
Rosado-Rodríguez, Eugenio E3Private First Class 1943-10-30October 30, 1943, Ponce, Puerto Rico 1966-07-19July 19, 1966
Sanchez, Jose Ramon E3Private First Class 1949-03-15March 15, 1949, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1968-06-06June 6, 1968
Vadi Rodríguez, Alberto E4.5Specialist 5 1950-03-04March 4, 1950 San Juan, Puerto Rico 1972-03-17March 17, 1972
El Monumento de la Recordación

Their names are inscribed in both the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located in Washington, D.C. and in El Monumento de la Recordación (The Wall of Remembrance) located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.[11][12]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor. Fighting to Defend a Nation Not Completely Their Own"; by : Greg Boudonck; ISBN 978-1497421837
  • "Historia militar de Puerto Rico"; by: Hector Andres Negroni; publisher=Sociedad Estatal Quinto Centenario (1992); ISBN 84-7844-138-7

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vietnam War Statistics". Veteran News Hour Daily. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  2. ^ "Jones-Shafroth Act". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  3. ^ "Definition of MIA". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  4. ^ "Puerto Rico's Proud Military History". The Puerto Rico Herald. Archived from the original on 2006-01-09. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  5. ^ John Kenneth Galbraith. "Memorandum to President Kennedy from John Kenneth Galbraith on Vietnam, 4 April 1962." The Pentagon Papers. Gravel. ed. Boston, Mass. Beacon Press, 1971, vol. 2. pp 669–671.
  6. ^ Military History Archived 2007-07-04 at the Wayback Machine., Retrieved September 15, 2007
  7. ^ "Vietnam War Casualties by US Geographic Division & Region". The American War Library. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  8. ^ "Bio, Acosta-Rosario, Humberto". P.O.W. Network. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  9. ^ "In Memory of SSgt. Humberto Acosta-Rosario". The Vietnam Memorial Wall. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Military Personnel Who Died (Including Missing and Captured Declared Dead) as a result of the Vietnam conflict, 1957-1995". The National Archives. Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  11. ^ "Korean War Veterans Memorial". National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  12. ^ "Monumento de la Recordación". Archived from the original on 2007-08-18. Retrieved 2007-09-10.