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First Name: Hector

Last Name: Santiago-Colon

Birthplace: Salinas, PR, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: New York, NY

Date of Birth: 20 December 1942

Date of Death: 28 June 1968

Rank: Specialist 4

Years Served:
Hector Santiago-Colon

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Hector Santiago-Colon
Specialist Four, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Specialist Four Hector Santiago-Colon (20 December 1942 - 28 June 1968) is a U.S. Army soldier who is one of five Puerto Ricans who have been posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest award for valor. His heroic actions during the Vietnam War saved the lives of his fellow comrades.

Hector Santiago-Colon was born on 20 December 1942, one of twelve siblings born to Pablo Santiago and Petronila Colon in Salinas, Puerto Rico. There he received his primary and secondary education. In 1960 his family moved to the U.S. and lived in New York City. After living in the city for a short time, Santiago-Colon decided that he wanted to be part of the NYPD (New York City Police Department). However, at the time, to become a member of the NYPD you had to be a veteran. Santiago-Colon then volunteered to join the U.S. Army. He was engaged to be married to his elementary school sweetheart at the time. After completing his basic training, he was assigned to a unit stationed in the Republic of Vietnam.

Action in Vietnam

On 28 June 1968, members of Santiago-Colon's Company B of the 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division were engaged in combat at Quang Tri Province. A North Vietnamese soldier lobbed a hand grenade into Santiago-Colon's foxhole. Realizing that there was no time to throw out the grenade, he tucked it in to his stomach and turning away from his comrades, absorbed the full impact of the blast, sacrificing his life to save his fellow soldiers from certain death. For his heroic self-sacrifice, Santiago-Colon was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to


Rank and organization: Specialist Four, U.S. Army, Company B, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

Place and date: Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, 28 June 1968.

Entered service at: New York, NY. Born: 20 December 1942, Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Realizing that there was no time to throw the grenade out of his position, he retrieved the grenade, tucked it in to his stomach and, turning away from his comrades, absorbed the full impact of the blast. Sp4 Santiago-Colón distinguished himself at the cost of his life while serving as a gunner in the mortar platoon of Company B. While serving as a perimeter sentry, Sp4 Santiago-Colón heard distinct movement in the heavily wooded area to his front and flanks. He alerted his fellow sentries in the area to move to their foxholes and remain alert for any enemy probing forces. From the wooded area around his position heavy enemy automatic weapons and small arms fire suddenly broke out, but extreme darkness rendered difficult the precise location and identification of the hostile force. Only the muzzle flashes from enemy weapons indicated their position. Sp4 Santiago-Colón and the other members of his position immediately began to repel the attackers, utilizing hand grenades, antipersonnel mines and small-arms fire. Due to the heavy volume of enemy fire and exploding grenades around them, a North Vietnamese soldier was able to crawl, undetected, to their position. Suddenly, the enemy soldier lobbed a hand grenade into Sp4 Santiago-Colón's foxhole. Realizing that there was no time to throw the grenade out of his position, Sp4 Santiago-Colón retrieved the grenade, tucked it in to his stomach and, turning away from his comrades, absorbed the full impact of the blast. Heroic self-sacrifice saved the lives of those who occupied the foxhole with him, and provided them with the inspiration to continue fighting until they had forced the enemy to retreat from the perimeter. By his gallantry at the cost of his life and in the highest traditions of the military service, Sp4 Santiago-Colón has reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Specialist Four Hector Santiago-Colon's Medal of Honor was presented to his family in a ceremony at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon on 7 April 1970.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star
Vietnam Campaign Medal

Combat Infantryman Badge

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Hector Santiago-Colon's name is inscribed on Panel 54W - Line 013.


• In July 1975, The Puerto Rican National Guard renamed their base "Camp Salinas," which is located close to Santiago-Colon's birth town, with the name "Camp Santiago" in his honor. He was the second Puerto Rican to be so honored. The first Puerto Rican who has a base named after him is Marine PFC Fernando Luis Garcia, who was the first Puerto Rican Medal of Honor recipient. The base is "Camp Garcia" located in the island municipality of Vieques.

• Santiago-Colon's name is also inscribed in "El Monumento de la Recordacion" (Monument of Remembrance), dedicated to Puerto Rico's fallen soldiers and situated in front of the Capitol Building in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

• On 11 November 2008, the Government of Puerto Rico unveiled in the Capitol Rotunda the oil portrait of Santiago-Colon.

Death and Burial

Specialist Four Hector Santiago-Colon was killed in action on 28 June 1968. He is buried at Cementerio Municipal de Salinas in the City of Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Honoree ID: 1074   Created by: MHOH




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