Tony Santiago

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Tony Santiago
Tony Santiago "Tony The Marine"-9853.jpg

Antonio Santiago Rodríguez
(1950-03-09) March 9, 1950 (age 67)
New York City, New York

minor fix
Nationality American
Known for writing, military history, editing English Wikipedia
Home town New York City, New York
Military career
Nickname(s) Tony the Marine
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1969-1975
Rank USMC-E3.svg Lance Corporal
Unit Hell in a Helmet3.jpg H & S Company, 2nd Battalion 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division
USMC MP.jpg Military Police
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Antonio Santiago Rodríguez[a] (born March 9, 1950) — better known as Tony the Marine or as Tony Santiago — is a United States Marine veteran, writer, and military historian from New York City, New York, focused mostly on the military history of Puerto Rico and its service members.[1]

For his work, Santiago was recognized by the 23rd Senate of Puerto Rico for being "one of the main contributors of content related to Puerto Rico in the open online encyclopedia known as Wikipedia".[2] The Senate also recognized him as one of the main writers on subjects which relate to Puerto Rico, and an important historian of the Puerto Rican military experience.[2] According to Phoebe Ayers, member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, this may be the first time that English Wikipedia has been mentioned in a parliamentary or congressional resolution of this type. She also stated that it's probably the first time that contributions to English Wikipedia have been cited in a formal governmental award, too.[3]

Early years[edit]

Santiago was born in New York City, New York to Joaquín Santiago and Hilda Rodríguez-Mattei, both of Puerto Rican origin.[4] Santiago graduated from high school in New York City and after being accepted to Columbia University, Santiago chose to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps instead.[5]

Military service[edit]

Tony Santiago in Vietnam.

Santiago saw active combat in the Marines. He served with the 2nd Battalion 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division in the Vietnam War in the 81 MM Mortar, and later in the Military Police as well.[5]

While in the Marines (hence his nickname), Santiago perceived significant ethnic, racial, and national origin discrimination. In response to this, he formed an organization composed of American soldiers of Latino descent. The organization, named Latin Power in Unity, included soldiers of Puerto Rican, Mexican, Central American and other Latino backgrounds.[6][7]

Santiago also developed a close friendship with Leroy Reese [7][self-published source?] who had formed a similar organization named "Black Power" for Black soldiers. Both men worked closely for the equal treatment of minorities and to improve relations between their members and the members of other ethnic groups in their company.[8][not in citation given] An interview about Santiago’s experience in the military, made by author Greg Boudonek, was published in the book "Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor: Fighting to Defend a Nation Not Completely Their Own".[b][9]

Upon finishing his tour with the U.S. Marine Corps in 1975, Santiago enrolled at the Interamerican University in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Business Administration in 1979.[10] In Puerto Rico, he met Milagros, the woman that would become his wife. They married in 1971 and had three children together.[11]

Military historian[edit]

In 1990, Santiago moved to Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and children. At this point he reflected, "the only role models and heroes for Latino children were El Zorro, the Cisco Kid and Speedy Gonzales and," he said, "school textbooks failed to mention the many contributions that Latinos had made to the formation of our country [the United States]."[5]

In response, Santiago began publishing a series of short articles about the contributions that Puerto Ricans had made to the American society. He is the editor of the Puerto Rican Military History Channel of the monthly internet magazine "El Boricua",[1] a staff writer in the internet magazine "Somos Primos"[1] and the official historian of the Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO).[5][12]

His early published work focused on military history, but later he expanded his research and documentation to include many other facets of the Puerto Rican life experience.[5]

Members of the Puerto Rican Senate recognize Tony (The Marine) Santiago

One email received from a reader of his articles led to Santiago serving to bridge two families that had lost track of each other for many years. It happened in 2007, when Santiago united U.S. Army veteran William W. Kouts with the family of the late David M. Gonzalez. Gonzalez had sacrificed his life to save Kouts during World War II.[13]

On April 2010, Santiago discovered and wrote about Lt. Augusto Rodriguez a Puerto Rican who served in the American Civil War. It was the first time that a link in the American Civil War was made between Puerto Rico and the United States. Rodriguez was thus the first known Puerto Rican veteran of the United States Armed Forces. The significance of this discovery is that, until then, it was believed that Puerto Ricans had not served in the United States military prior to World War I.[14][15] Puerto Rico's Secretary of State, Kenneth D. McClintock, named Santiago "Puerto Rico's foremost military historian."[16]

Santiago is among the people who were interviewed and who are featured in the documentary “On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam”; directed and produced by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Mylene Moreno. The documentary, which aired on PBS in September 22, 2015, examines the Latino experience during the Vietnam War.[17] He was interviewed, together with fellow veteran Oscar Urrea, by PBS "Horizante" host Jose Cardenas and Univision newscaster Jorge Valenzuela, where he expressed his personal experiences, prior to the showing of the documentary.[18]

Other works[edit]

In addition to his military history research and writing, Santiago is also a free lance photojournalist for The Arizona Republic.[19][20] He is also a member of the national steering committee of "Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance," which sought the Congressional Gold Medal for Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment, and serves in the "Latino Alliance Advisory Board."[5]

In page 263 of the acknowledgments section of the book “War Against All Puerto Ricans, Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony” author Nelson Antonio Denis wrote the following:

”Tony (the Marine) Santiago, creator of over six hundred Wikipedia articles on Puerto Rican history and biographies, was a key inspiration and advisor” [21]

Honors and awards[edit]


Cover of Wikimedia Foundation's 2012-2013 Annual Report.
Tony Santiago (L), Oscar Urrea (R) and journalist Jorge Valenzuela (center), when interviewed in Univision
  • On 20 November 2007, the Senate of Puerto Rico issued Resolution No. 3603 applauding Santiago's military legacy.[2] The Resolution called Santiago "an important historian of Puerto Rican military contribution, [who] over the years has documented the history of Puerto Rican sacrifice and heroism in the battlefields using the internet, the Puerto Rican Military History Channel, the cultural magazine El Boricua and Somos Primos." According to Phoebe Ayers, member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, this may be the first time that Wikipedia has been mentioned in a parliamentary or congressional resolution of this type.[3]
  • On Memorial Day of 2008, Congressman Luis Fortuño read a statement about Tony the Marine into the U.S. Congressional Record.[22][c]
  • On 10 August 2010, Puerto Rico's Secretary of State, Kenneth D. McClintock, named Santiago "Puerto Rico's foremost military historian."[23]
  • On 28 August 2012, the Latino Alliance named Santiago a "Champion of Character."[5]
  • On 11 November 2013 (Veteran's Day), Kenneth McClintock Hernández, the former Secretary of State and former president of the Senate of Puerto Rico, again gave special recognition to Santiago. McClintock honored him for documenting the sacrifice, and preserving the legacy, of Puerto Rican veterans throughout world history.[14]
  • In January 2014, the Wikimedia Foundation included Mr. Santiago's photo on the cover of their 2012-2013 Annual Report.[24]
  • In 2016, The Wikimedia Foundation revealed the most detailed featured articles in its site. According to the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia’s parent company, the article “The Military history of Puerto Rico” created by Santiago, is ranked #4 among the featured articles in depth and high quality. Santiago is credited by the foundation as being the person who mostly has maintained the articles' length and quality. [25]
Milestones as a Wikipedian
(L-R) Santiago with William Kouts and David Gonzales. JR. 
Speech by U.S. Congressman Luis Fortuño, page 1 
Speech by U.S. Congressman Luis Fortuño, page 2 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Santiago and the second or maternal family name is Rodríguez.
  2. ^ Note: The distributing company of the book mistakenly credited Santiago as a Co-author[citation needed]
  3. ^ Fortuño (2008) "Today, the Senate of Puerto Rico recognizes a Puerto Rican who after serving as a Marine in Vietnam [...] has become Puerto Rico's most widely-read writer of the heroic accounts of Puerto Rico's military men and women."


  1. ^ a b c "Tony "the Marine" Santiago becomes official ANSO Historian". Association of Naval Services Officers. March 16, 2008. Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Senate Resolution #3603. Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico). 15th Legislative Assembly. 4th Extraordinary Session. Senate of Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico 20 November 2007. Introduced by Senators Arce Ferrer and McClintock Hernández. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b [WikiEN-l] User honored by the Senate of Puerto Rico
  4. ^ "The Arizona Republic"; "A medal, a debt, both of honor"; by "azrepublic_Faherty_20070527.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Latino Alliance Champion of Character: Former gang leader & Vietnam vet chronicles Latino achievement, heroism, and leadership! - Tony "The Marine" Santiago Latino Alliance. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  6. ^ El Boricua, Boricua Publications, Ivonne Figueroa, ed. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Boudonck, Greg (March 22, 2014). Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 144. ISBN 9781497421837. 
  8. ^ Wallace, Terry (1985). Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War. Ballantine Books. ISBN 9780345311979. 
  9. ^ [ Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor: Fighting to Defend a Nation Not Completely Their Own; Author Greg Boudonek; Pages: 140-147; Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform: ISBN 978-1497352568]
  10. ^ The National Dean's List: 1978-1979. International Communications, Inc. 1979. p. 608. ISBN 9780915130252. 
  11. ^ Santiago, Tony (2012). "Real Life Love Stories: The Marine and the Girl Next Door". 
  12. ^ Stanton, Alison (January 29, 2008). "Author Details Contributions of Puerto Ricans". The Arizona Republic. 
  13. ^ Santiago, Tony (2007). "The David M. Gonzalez – William Kouts Story" (PDF). El Boricua. 
  14. ^ a b McClintock, Kenneth (November 11, 2013). "Mensaje día del Veterano Guánica 2013" (in Spanish). Speech by Secretary of State of Puerto Rico Kenneth McClintock posted in Facebook. 
  15. ^ Laureano, Eva (November 11, 2013). "Descubren veterano puertorriqueño que sirvió en la Guerra Civil". NotiCel (in Spanish). .
  16. ^ "Antonio "the Marine" Santiago Recognized as Puerto Rico’s Foremost Military Historian". Somos Primos. September 2010. 
  17. ^ On Two Fronts Movie
  18. ^ Horizonte
  19. ^ DeForest, Lisa (February 5, 2014). "Phoenix’s Historic Buildings". The Arizona Republic. 
  20. ^ DeForest, Lisa (October 11, 2014). "See Scottsdale’s Historic Buildings and Homes". The Arizona Republic. 
  21. ^ "War Against All Puerto Ricans, Revolution and Terror in America's Colony"; Author Nelson Antonio Denis; Page 263; Publisher Nation Books; ISBN 1568585012; ISBN 978-1568585017
  22. ^ Congressional Record. 26 May 2008.
  23. ^ Welcoming remarks Aug. 10, 2010. Kenneth D. McClintock. Secretary of State of Puerto Rico. Kenneth D. McClintock's Welcoming Remarks at the Memorial Wall, National Commission on the American Latino Museum. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  24. ^ Ten Years of Caring and Sharing: Wikimedia Foundation 2012-13 Annual Report
  25. ^ Wikipedia reveals the most-detailed 'featured' articles on the site

External links[edit]