Alfonso Sanchez Bermudez, head keeper of the Isla Caja de Muertos Lighthouse (located just off the coast of southern Puerto Rico), performed a lifesaving action in September 1916 that would earn him a formal commendation. This action involved rescuing a man who, while sailing in the vicinity of the lighthouse, found himself in danger of... Continue Reading →

In 1991, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Katherine Faverey Tiongson took command of the newly built USCG cutter (USCGC) Bainbridge Island. This assignment made Tiongson the first Hispanic American female to command an afloat unit in the USCG. Tiongson took command of the 110-foot (34-meter) USCGC Bainbridge Island during a commissioning ceremony... Continue Reading →

In 1997, Carlos Ismael Noriega made history as the first Peruvian-born astronaut to fly into outer space. He had been born in Peru’s capital city of Lima in 1959. In a 2016 interview with the University of Southern California (USC) News, Noriega discussed his family’s move to the United States. “We came to this country... Continue Reading →

Antonio Valent, the son of a seaman who immigrated to Texas from Spain, was born in 1884 in the town of Point Isabel (now Port Isabel) in the Lone Star State. He launched a fishing business in that region of the Gulf coast in 1902. The market for the fish he caught was initially restricted... Continue Reading →

As a young engineer, Victor M. Mendez wasted little time deciding what to focus on in his career. “Thinking back, I migrated to transportation very early,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post in 2012. “I remember how satisfying it was to be able to say I helped design and construct a road... Continue Reading →

Robert Files Lopez was born in the city of Davenport, Iowa, on March 31, 1857. He was admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1874 and made history in 1879 as the first Hispanic American to graduate from that institution. Lopez’s subsequent naval career included serving as an ensign aboard the USS Thetis when that... Continue Reading →

Frank Sandoval, whose U.S. Army service during World War II included taking part in one of the most critical and formidable roadbuilding projects of that military conflict, grew up in a predominantly Hispanic American community on Second Street in the small town of Silvis, Illinois. That street is just a block-and-a-half long and consists of... Continue Reading →

In 2004, Joseph Michael Acabá made history as the first person of Puerto Rican descent to be named as a NASA astronaut candidate. Acabá was born in 1967 in Inglewood, California. His parents, Ralph and Elsie Acabá, are from the municipality of Hatillo in Puerto Rico and had moved to California earlier in the decade.... Continue Reading →

Joseph B. Aviles, Sr., who became the first Hispanic American chief petty officer (CPO) in the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), was born near the town of Naranjito in central Puerto Rico in 1896. (Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony at the time, and became a territory of the United States a couple of years later.)... Continue Reading →

As a nurse, Maria Esperanza Garcia Roach was one of an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 Hispanic Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. Her own lifesaving role in this global conflict very much depended on airborne transportation. Maria was born on July 16, 1915, in the city of Piedras Negras... Continue Reading →

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