Jorge Otero Barreto (born 7 April 1937), a.k.a. “the Puerto Rican Rambo”, is a retired United States Army soldier. He earned 38 military decorations during his career, and has been called the most decorated U.S. soldier of the Vietnam War. Due to his multiple awards he has received recognition from numerous organizations and has had buildings named after him. He is also the main subject of Brave Lords, a documentary which tells the story of the Puerto Rican experience in the war in Vietnam.
Otero Barreto was born in the town of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, the son of Eloy Otero-Bruno and Crispina Barreto-Torres. His father named him “Jorge”, Spanish for George, after George Washington whom Otero-Bruno admired. In Vega Baja, Otero Barreto received his primary and secondary education. He attended college for three years, studying biology until 1959 when he joined the U.S. Army. After his basic training, he attended the Army’s Air Assault School, graduating in 1960. He was the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the U.S. Army Air Assault School.
From 1961 to 1970, Otero Barreto served five tours in Southeast Asia, starting as an advisor who helped train Vietnamese troops. According to the documentary “Brave Lords”, Otero Barreto served in various military units during his military career. He served in the 101st Airborne Division and the 25th Infantry Division “Tropic Lightning”. He also served in the 82nd Airborne Division, an active airborne infantry division of the United States Army specializing in parachute landing operations and in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. He participated in 200 combat missions, was wounded five times in combat, and was awarded 38 military decorations, making him “the most decorated soldier of the Vietnam War.” Among his many decorations are 3 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars with Valor, 4 Army Commendation Medals, 5 Purple Hearts and 5 Air Medals (one each for every 5th mission which involved a helicopter).
Otero Barreto has been called “the most decorated Puerto Rican veteran,” and the news media and various organizations have called him “the most decorated soldier in the Vietnam War.” Whatever the case, Otero Barreto remains one of the most decorated Vietnam War veterans, and possibly the most decorated U.S. soldier in the Vietnam War living today.
We honor you, Otero Barreto.