Hispanic Heroes and Leaders
From the Yester Years
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Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, USN
Born on July 5, 1801, Admiral Farragu was the first senior officer of the U.S. Navy during the American Civil War. He was the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and full admiral of the Navy. He is remembered in popular culture for his possibly apocryphal order at the Battle of Mobile Bay, usually paraphrased: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!".
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Commodore Robert F. Lopez, USN – USNA Class of 1879. 

Rear Admiral Frederick Lois Riefkohl, USN – USNA Class of 1911. 
Born on February 27, 1889 and raised in Maunabo, Puerto Rico, he is the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the Naval Academy. He was appointed to USNA on July 5, 1907 by Governor Beekman Winthrop. He was a World War I Navy Cross recipient who served as Captain of the USS Vicennes (CA-44) during World War II. (Grandmother, Marie Sandoz, appears to be of Hispanic descent.)
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Lt General Pedro Augusto Del Valle, USN – USNA Class of 1915. 
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (August 28, 1893 – April 28, 1978).  Was a United States Marine Corps officer who became the first Hispanic to reach the rank of Lieutenant General. His military career included service in World War I, Haiti and Nicaragua during the so-called Banana Wars of the 1920s, and in the seizure of Guadalcanal and later as Commanding General of the U.S. 1st Marine Division during World Warl.
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Rear Admiral Jose M. Cabanillas, USN - USNA Class of 1924.  
Born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico on September 23, 1901.  He was appointed to USNA on June 16, 1920 by Governor A. Yager.  He was an Executive Officer of the USS Texas which participated in the invasions of North Africa and Normandy (D-Day) during World War II. In 1945, he became the first Commanding officer of the USS Grundy (APA-111), commissioned on January 3, 1945.
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RADM Edmund Ernest Garcia, USN - USNA Class of 1927.  
Garcia was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and his father Enrique Garcia was a Captain in the U.S. Army.  He was originally a member of the Class of 1926 but requested to be turned back to the class of 1927 for academic deficiency in mathematics.  During WWII was commander of the destroyer USS Sloat and saw action in the invasions of Africa, Sicily, and France.

Colonel Jaime Sabater, USMC – USNA Class of 1927. 
Born on May 28, 1904 in Puerto Rico.  Was appointed to USNA on July 9, 1923 by F.C. Davila.  During WWII, commanded the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines during the Bouganville amphibious operations. Commanding officer of the 3rd Marines, Fleet Marine Force, Western Pacific (formerly the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines) from 1 October 1947 to 1 April 1948 in Tsingtao, China.  
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[son, COL Jamie Sabater may have also served]

Captain Charles Mario Charneco, USN – USNA Class of 1930. 
Born on January 22, 1906 in Puerto Rico.  Was appointed to USNA on June 16, 1925 by Governor H.M. Towner.  Served in the Navy.

Commander George E. Garcia, USN – USNA Class of 1930. 
Born on January 13, 1907. 

Rear Admiral Henry G. Sanchez, USN – USNA Class of 1930. 
Born on December 29, 1907.

Admiral Horacio Rivero, USN - USNA Class of 1931 and first four-star admiral from Puerto Rico.
Rivero was born in 1910 in Ponce, in southern Puerto Rico.  He graduated third in a class of 441at the Naval Academy. During World War II, he served aboard the USS San Juan (CL-54) and was involved in providing artillery cover for Marines landing on Guadalcanal, Marshall Islands, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
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Commander Juan Paul (Pablo) Domenech, USN – USNA Class of 1932. 
Born on January 28, 1909 in Puerto Rico.  Was appointed to the USNA on July 9, 1928 by the Honorable Felix Cordova Davila, Resident Commissioner.  Entered the Navy.

1st Lieutenant James Rockwell, USMC – USNA Class of 1933. 
Born March 12, 1911 in Puerto Rico.  Was appointed to the USNA on June 20, 1929 by the Honorable Felix Cordova Davila, Resident Commissioner.  Served in the USMC.

Lieutenant Juan Bautista Pesante, USN – USNA Class of 1934. 
Born on August 29, 1911 in Puerto Rico.  Was appointed to the USNA on July 28, 1930 by the Honorable Felix Cordova Davila, Resident Commissioner.  Was the Executive Officer of USS PRESTON (DD-379) and was subsequently killed in action off Guadalcanal against the Japanese light cruiser NAGARA on November 14, 1942. 
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Captain Marion Ramirez de Arellano, USN – USNA Class of 1935. 
Born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.  He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy by Governor Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (son of Teddy Roosevelt).  He was executive officer of the USS Skate (SS-305) in 1943; and skipper of the USS Balao (SS-285) in 1944 during WWII (sunk two Japanese ships during his third war patrol).   [Read more.]

Lieutenant Edmundo Gandia, USN – USNA Class of 1938. 
Born August 5, 1914 in Puerto Rico.  Was appointed to the USNA on August 13, 1934 by Honorable Santiago Iglesias, Resident Commissioner.  Served in the Navy.

Colonel Marcelo S. Castillo, Jr.__?___ -- USNA Class of 1938.  Phillipines

Rear Admiral Rafael Celestino Benitez, USN - USNA Class of 1939
Born in Juncos, Puerto Rico and appointed to the USNA by Honorable Santiago Iglesias, Resident Commissioner.  He saw action aboard submarines, weathered depth charge attacks, and was awarded the Silver and Bronze Star Medals during WWII. On January 29, 1946, Lieutenant Commander Benitez was given his first submarine command, the USS Trumpetfish. In 1949, Benitez was given the command of the submarine USS Cochino but on August 25, 1949, one the Cochino's 4,000-pound batteries caught fire that resulted in the loss of submarine and several personnel in the high seas off the coast of Norway.    
[see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafael_Celestino_Benitez ]

Doctor Hector Manuel Davila-Alonso – USNA Class of 1939. 
Born on January 2, 1917 in Puerto Rico.  Was appointed to the USNA on July 15, 1935 by Governor Blanton Winship.  He graduated in 1939 but immediately honorably discharged due to a medical condition (myopia).

Commander Ramon Manuel Perez, USN -  USNA Class of 1941. 
Born on January 19, 1918 in Puerto Rico.  Was appointed to the USNA on August 21, 1936 by Santiago Iglesias.  Graduated in February 1941 and served in the Navy. 

Commander Rene E. Gonzalez, USN – USNA Class of 1943. 
Born on April 27, 1921.

Captain C. Kenneth Ruiz, USN - USNA Class of 1943 from Long Beach, CA. 
He wrote the book, The Luck of the Draw: The Memoir of a World War II Submariner: From Savo Island to the Silent Service, published by Zenith Press in 2005.  As a new Naval Academy grad in 1942 (accelerated graduation), ENS Ruiz survived the sinking of his cruiser USS Vincennes (CA-44) on his maiden cruise in the Battle of Savo Island.  After being rescued at sea and sent to Pearl Harbor, he gets a personal invitation by Admiral Chester Nimitz to join the Submarine Service.  He then spends eight war patrols on the submarine USS Pollack in the hostile waters of the Pacific during WWII until 1944 whereupon he heads back to the U.S. to undergo flight school and becomes an aviator.  He flew combat missions in Korea, and commanded the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard in Vietnam. The October 2006 issue of Military History magazine had an interview of CAPT Ruiz on pages 30-35, entitled, “30 Years Above, On and Beneath the Sea” by Doug Pricer.

1st Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez, USMC – USNA Class of 1947. 
Posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for smothering a hand grenade with his own body during the Inchon landing on September 15, 1950 during the Korean War.  Born on August 23, 1925 in Tampa, Florida, enlisted in the Navy on July 8, 1943 and served until June 11, 1944 whereupon he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy.
[see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldomero_Lopez ]

Captain Francisco A. Velazquez-Suarez, USN – USNA Class of 1953. 

Captain William Primitivo Rodriguez, USN - USNA Class of 1954. 
Born on July 22, 1931, and raised in Monroe, Louisiana.  He is the great-grandson of General Pablo Rodriguez of Castille, Spain, and the grandson of Reverend Primitivo Abel Rodriguez of Mexico City, Mexico. CAPT Rodriguez served a number of at-sea tours as a Surface Warfare Officer, including three deployments to Vietnam on the Carrier Division Seven Staff, and was the Commanding Officer of the USS CATSKILL (MCS-1) in 1970. He served as the CNO's Communicator from 1973-1975, commanded the Navy Communications Center in the Pentagon, and hosted the annual Pan-American Communications Conference for most of the Latin American Navies.  His final duty assignment was as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations for Commander Second Fleet.  He was inurned at the USNA columbarium in June 2004.

Captain Ramon C. Alvarado, USN – USNA Class of 1954.

Major Edmund Martinez, USAF – USNA Class of 1954. 

Colonel John Gonzalez, USMC – USNA Class of 1955. 

Commander Joseph Perez, USN – USNA Class of 1955. 

Commander Mario Sanchez-Carrion, USN – Class of 1956

General Julio Torres, USAF – USNA Class of 1957. 

Rear Admiral Benjamin F. Montoya, USN – USNA Class of 1958. 
He was born in Indio, California and graduated from Coachella Valley High School in 1953. He retired from the Navy in 1989 as the Chief of the Navy Civil Engineer Corps and Commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. 
[see http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/oer/nac/bios/montoya.htm ]

Captain John Frank Gamboa, USN – USNA Class of 1958.
Born in 1933.  Senator John McCain’s Academy roommate. 

Major Carlos A. Hernandez, USAF – USNA Class of 1958. 

Vice Admiral Jesse J. Hernandez, USN – USNA Class of 1958.

Commander Alexander Castro, Jr., USN – USNA Class of 1959. 

Commander Alfred Santos, Jr., USN – USNA Class of 1959.

Lieutenant Colonel Ramiro Saenz, USMC – USNA Class of 1959. 

Colonel Angelo Fernandez, USMC – USNA Class of 1959.

CAPT Marion Frederic Ramirez de Arellano

Father: Rafael William Ramirez de Arellano y Asenjo
Mother: Lucille Kemmerer
Both father and mother were professors at University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras.  Marion was born on August 5, 1913 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Young Marion started grade school in US at Baxter Street School in Athens, GA; then attended grade school, high school, and college in Puerto Rico.  Attended University of Puerto Rico for two years prior to entering the Naval Academy.  He was appointed to the Naval Academy by Governor Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (son of President Teddy Roosevelt) and graduated with the USNA Class of '35.  While at the Academy, he won varsity letters in soccer, tennis, and gymnastics; and was a member of Reef Points (pistol club) and Juice (Electrical) Gang.  He won the Society of Cincinnati prize for highest standing in the course for the Department of Languages.

Wife: Isabel Judson Mysie from La Jolla, CA. 
Married in San Diego, CA on 6 June 1937.
1st son: Peter Judson, born 4/30/44; 2nd son: Thomas Macdonald 6/2/47
3rd son: Timothy Romme 9/10/50
Family address: 91 Calle H. Macias, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
Date and place of death: May 15, 1980 - Andrews Air Force Base

Navy career:
Graduated USNA Class of '35
1935-37 Gunnery Officer on USS RANGER - His work as an ensign on board RANGER concerned the ship's 5"/25 caliber battery in surface gunnery exercises, scoring a fine percentage of hits on the target.
1937-38 Submarine School – graduated 21 of 26.
Jan 38-Dec 42 Division Officer on USS PICKEREL - won Silver Star and Legion of Merit for contributions leading to the rescue of five Navy pilots and one enlisted gunner off Wake Island; and for sinking of two Japanese freighters and damaging a third
Dec 42-Apr 43 Navy Yard, Mare Island
Apr 43-Mar 44 XO/Navigator on USS Skate (war patrols 1, 2, 3) - won second Silver Star for contributions in sinking a Japanese light cruiser
Apr 44-Feb 45 CO of USS Balao (war patrols 5, 6, 7) - awarded Bronze Star with Combat V and Letter of Commendation with ribbon and Combat V for actions in sinking a tanker and schooner in the East China Sea; and rescuing 3 Navy pilots during lifeguards duty off Palau
Feb 45-Aug 45 Submarine Division 202 working with sub relief crews
Aug-Nov 45 Commander of Submarine Division 16
Nov 45-Apr 46 CO of USS Piper
May 46-Nov 47 CO of Submarine Base, St Thomas, Virgin Islands
Nov 47-Aug 49 Assistant to War Plans Officer, Caribbean Sea Frontier, 10th Naval District
Aug 49 - Aug 52 Department of Languages, US Naval Academy
Sep 52-May 54 CO of USS LINDENWALD (LSD 6)
May 54-Apr 55 CO of USS THOMASTON (LSD 28)
May 55-Jun 57 War Plans Officer, Joint US Military Group, Madrid, Spain
Jul 57-Jul 61 Deputy Director, Inter-American Defense Board, Washington, DC
1 July 1961 Retired from US Navy

From BALAO patrol reports: He was CO of BALAO SS-285 for war patrols 5, 6 & 7. He departed Pearl Harbor for his 1st war patrol as CO on 25 April 1944 in the Palau area. He departed Majuro Atoll on 5 July 1944 for his 2nd war patrol in the Palau area. They performed lifeguard duties and rescued 3 pilots. He departed for his 3rd patrol on 4 December 1944 from Pearl Harbor to patrol in the Yellow Sea. He departed with USS SPOT and USS ICEFISH. The three boats were part of the Post's Panzers Wolf Pack. BALAO sunk the cargo ship Daigo Maru on 8 Jan 1945 for a total of 5,244 tons. This is the only vessel that the BALAO and skipper are officially credited with sinking per JANAC 1947 during the three war patrols. The vessel required 16 torpedoes to sink it. It may have turned out two of his tubes were defective, causing many torpedoes to deflect off course. He reports of 7 solid confirmed hits before it sunk. He believes the cargo vessel's cargo may have been of material that would float.

He does have a sense of humor in his patrol reports. Ptl #7 on 12 January. "Sighted object bearing 319 degree T, which upon closing proved to be the periscope and shears of the SPOT, (Ship contact #3), who was patrolling on the surface. Decided it wasn't good form to scare the Group Commander, (he's bigger than I am), so withdrew quietly."

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Last Updated: 27-Feb-2007