During the course of the 19th century, businessman and politician Estévan Ochoa was among the Hispanic Americans who helped pioneer and sustain vital transportation services in what is now the southwestern United States. Ochoa was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1831. His family’s enterprises included a freight-hauling business on the Santa Fe Trail, a major... Continue Reading →

In 2006, Ronald J. Rábago was promoted to rear admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG); this made him the first person of Hispanic American descent to attain flag rank in that military branch. (A flag officer is a commissioned officer who is senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark the... Continue Reading →

Image: Roberto Sánchez Vilella (right) seen here with David Ben-Gurion, former prime minister of Israel, circa 1958. Roberto Sánchez Vilella made a number of notable contributions to Puerto Rico’s transportation infrastructure. He was born in 1913 in the municipality of Mäyaguez on the western coast of Puerto Rico. Vilella and his family moved to the... Continue Reading →

Domingo Marcucci (1827-1905), who started out life in the part of the South American republic of Gran Colombia that now encompasses Venezuela, became a leading trailblazer for maritime activities in the United States. “Captain [Domingo] Marcucci is the pioneer boatbuilder of the Pacific Coast and the first to establish a shipyard in San Francisco,” asserted... Continue Reading →

Entrepreneur and politician Miguel Antonio Otero (1829-1882), who had been born in present-day New Mexico when it was still a Mexican province, was a strong supporter of railroads in that part of the world. While serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for the New Mexico Territory’s at-large district from 1856 to 1861, he steadfastly... Continue Reading →

Sometime around 1824, Juan Andreu of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (forerunner to the U.S. Coast Guard) was appointed keeper of the St. Augustine Lighthouse on northeast Florida’s Atlantic coast. (The future state had become a U.S. territory in 1821.) Andreu, whose parents had been born in on the island of Minorca (off the eastern... Continue Reading →

In 1995, Michael López-Alegría became the first Spanish-American to fly into outer space. López-Alegría, who had been born in Madrid in 1958, grew up in Mission Viejo, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, earning a B.S. in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980 and an M.S. in aeronautical engineering from the... Continue Reading →

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Rafael Celestino Benítez (1917-1999), who was born in the Puerto Rican municipality of Juncos, became a highly decorated submarine commander during his longtime military career. After retiring from the Navy in 1959, he served as Pan America World Airways’ vice president for Latin America. For more information about Rafael Celestino Benítez,... Continue Reading →

Retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General José M. Portela, who was born in San Juan in 1949, has established several noteworthy aviation records. He was the first native of Puerto Rico to become a brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.  In 1972, he became the youngest person to serve as commander of a... Continue Reading →

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