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 →

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 →

Steamship captain Manuel A. Gonzalez (1832-1902) immigrated to the United States from his native Spain in 1846. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1859. During the Civil War, he put his maritime skills to effective use by using a boat on a regular basis to transport needed supplies to the Union Army troops stationed... Continue Reading →

Aviation pioneer Elwood Richard Quesada was born in Washington, D.C., in 1904 to a Spanish father and Irish-American mother. Quesada’s longtime aviation career began in 1924 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a flying cadet. The subsequent highlights of his career included being promoted to lieutenant general in the U.S. Air... Continue Reading →

In 1991, Lieutenant Commander Marilyn Melendez Dykman became the first Hispanic-American female aviator in the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Her achievement helped pave the way for similar opportunities for female cadets of all races and ethnicities at the USCG. For information about Marilyn Melendez Dykman and other Hispanic-American pioneers in the USCG, please check out... Continue Reading →

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