"One day I asked myself "Who are we (as Puerto Ricans)?"
"What contributions have we made to society in the fields of the Arts, Education, Science, Military and Literature?"
That's when I decided to become a writer`
-Tony the Marine-
Tony the Marine
Who am I?
My name is Tony a.k.a. "Tony the Marine". I served as 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 served on the national steering committee of Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance and 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
Our house in Cambria Heights, Queens, NY.
I was born the son of Puerto Rican parents, of Corsican and Spanish descent, 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 Simpson Street, a street so mean that it was nicknamed "Fort Apache" and a movie about the area titled "Fort Apache, The Bronx" was made in 1981. I was a member of a gang called "The Torchmen" a branch of the "Crowns" one of the largest gangs in the Bronx. 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 American Revolutionary War nor about our heroes in the American 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 1975 (active and reserves). During my military 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 there 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:
"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."
- Abraham Lincoln April 6, 1859 -
My introduction to Wikipedia
(L-R)Tony the Marine, W.Kouts and D.Gonzales, Jr.
I enrolled in the Interamerican University where my major was in 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
Writing in Wikipedia has provided me with many positive experiences and recognition's, which I would like to share.
"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 CongressmanHoward Berman and telephoned every David Gonzales in the Los Angeles area without any luck. I then placed a message in Somos Primos, the Hispanic heritage cultural magazine, for which I used to 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. Beatrice Gonzales, David's daughter-in-law, said:
"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 October 2, 2020, I received this message from Cindy Raven the daughter of Carl Mero, one of the other soldiers saved by Gonzales:
"I have been praying to hear back from you. When dad died, I was glad he would be able to see David Gonzales in heaven. I do so want his family to know how much he meant to him and us and how hard he tried to contact his family in the days before the Internet. Blessings to you for your help!"
I was once again able to contact the Gonzales family and connect Cindy with them . She then wrote to me the following: "Spoke with the Gonzales family today. What a blessing! Thank you for making it happen!!"
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 the 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 in the presence of the following Puerto Rican 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".
"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 ..."
I'm in the middle with the then Speaker of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico, the Honorable Jose Aponte and the now former President of the Puerto Rican Senate the honorable Kenneth McClintock.
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, 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".
"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 Management, 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 Recognition's
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. On August 14 of 2019, Lt. Augusto Rodríguez earthly remains were exhumed from his gravesite in the Firefighters Pantheon at the Evergreen Cemetery. On the 15th. At one o clock in the afternoon, his earthly remains where honored with full military honor by the Puerto Rico National Guard and interred at The Puerto Rico National Cemetery. The remains where entombed in a special section of the cemetery.
On May 8, 2012, Mylene Moreno, PBS Documentary Producer and Claudio Rocha (Cinematographer) set up the equipment which was used for my interview and participation in “On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam”; a PBS documentary
A couple of years ago Ken Burns made a documentary about World War ll for PBS where he totally ignored the contributions and sacrifices which the Latinos made to that war effort. I had already written articles in Wikipedia about the little known Hispanic war heroes, their contributions to American Revolution, Civil War and so on. Admiral DeLoach from the Pentagon even asked me to write in Wikipedia the history of Hispanics in the Navy, which I did plus I also wrote the history of Hispanics in the Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.
After I saw what Ken Burns did, I decided to write an article about the Hispanic-Americans in WW ll in Wikipedia. It so happens that PBS producer Mylene Moreno also wanted to make a film about the untold story of the Latino struggle in two fronts, the home front and Vietnam War.
Here I am with fellow veteran Oscar Urrea and journalist Jorge Valenzuela, during an interview in Univision
Moreno was able to contact me through my work in Wikipedia. In the film I talked about the Puerto Rican participation in the war and I also talked about a subject which is never discussed nor mentioned in our history books or in the movies about that conflict, and that is about the prejudice and racism which those of the Latino community where subject to in the military during the Vietnam War. The documentary, titled "On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam” aired through PBS on September 22, 2012. I was interviewed, together with fellow veteran Oscar Urrea prior to the showing of the documentary, by PBS "Horizante" host Jose Cardenas and later by Univision newscaster Jorge Valenzuela, where I expressed my personal experiences. My participation would not have been possible if not for my work in Wikipedia.
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. In page 263 of the acknowledgments section of the book “War Against All Puerto Ricans, Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony” author and former representative to the New York State Assembly 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” 
"A Brief History of the Afro-Borincano" in Examinfo]
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” which I created, is ranked #4 among the featured articles in depth and high quality. The foundation publicly credited me as the being the person who mostly has maintained the articles' length and quality. In 2017, Examinfo, whose motto is "This channel is dedicated to keeping alive the beautiful treasury of books" converted my article "A Brief History of the Afro-Borincano" into an audiobook.
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 five beautiful grandchildren named Wesley, Nina, John Anthony, Savannah and Owen David.
If you would really like to know why I spend so many hours writing in Wikipedia you may find the answer here:
The President of the Puerto Rican Senate, the Honorable Kenneth McClintock presented me this resolution honoring my Puerto Rican related work in Wikipedia on behalf of the government. This may very well be the first time in history that a government recognizes someone for his work in Wikipedia.
USAJFKSWCS Medal of Excellence
USAJFKSWCS Medal of Excellence
USAJFKSWCS Medal of Excellence presented to me by Brigadier General Hector E. Pagan on Memorial Day of May 26, 2008.
Joint Task Force Commander's Coin and Certificate for Excellence
Joint Task Force Commander's Coin for Excellence
Joint Task Force Certificate for Excellence
Joint Task Force Commander's Coin and Certificate for Excellence presented to Tony (The Marine) Santiago by Brigadier General Rafael O'Ferrall on October 5, 2009.
Cover of Wikimedia Foundation's 2012-2013 Annual Report
On the cover of Wikimedia Foundation's 2012-2013 Annual Report.
I am honored to be on the cover of "Ten years of sharing and learning", Wikipedia's Foundation's 2012-2013 Annual Report with Wikipedians Lutho, Ravan Jaafar Altaie, Amina and James Forrester.
Public Law 109-253 in the U.S. House of Representatives contains one of my articles
Tony the Marine has been identified as an Awesome Wikipedian,
and therefore, I've officially declared today as Tony's day!
For being such a beautiful person and great Wikipedian,
enjoy being the Star of the day, dear Tony!
User:Marine 69-71 has been identified as an Awesome Wikipedian,
and therefore, I've officially declared today as Marine 69-71's day!
For being such a beautiful person and great Wikipedian,
enjoy being the Star of the day, dear Marine 69-71!
On December 8, 2008, Ivan Castro received 71,300 page views while it was featured on the Main Page, establishing an all-time DYK record for most page views, a record which was unbroken until July 11, 2010! See: All time best of DYK.
Barnstar Award Versions That I've Created
This Boricua Tireless Contributor Barnstar is presented to ..... for his/her continued work on Puerto Rican related articles. Presented by ....
"To be award to those dedicated users who have made significant amount of contributions or improvements to articles related to a particular country" (example: Puerto Rico, shown above).
Puerto Rico National Merit Medal
Puerto Rico National Merit Medal
To be award to dedicated users whose contributions and dedication to articles regarding Puerto Rico are above and beyond from what is normally expected and have helped provide a positive image of the island.
"Recipient should have at least one featured article about Puerto Rico" or
"Has created a significant amount of Puerto Rico related articles".
If you find this page on any site other than Wikipedia, you are viewing a mirror site. Be aware that the page may be outdated, and that the user this page belongs to may have no personal affiliation with any site other than Wikipedia itself. The original page is located at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Marine_69-71.
^ "Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor. Fighting to Defend a Nation Not Completely Their Own"; by : Greg Boudonck; Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform; ISBN-10: 1497421837; ISBN-13: 978-1497421837
^"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