Sergeant First Class Jorge Otero Barreto was a soldier from Puerto Rico  who acted with extraordinary valor, assaulting a machine gun nest with complete disregard for his own life and safety. Beyond this event in Phuoc Yen, Vietnam, Otero Barreto taught his soldiers to use the technique he had mastered, saving numerous lives. There is an effort underway to petition for a Medal of Honor for Jorge Otero Barreto. Bryce Mallory, featured in the video above, has a petition online calling for the introduction of a bill to award the Medal of Honor to Otero Barreto during his lifetime. Sign the petition.

Classic cordon maneuver

Otero Barreto came up with a clever fighting move during a battle in Phuoc Yen. It worked so well that everyone started calling it the “classic cordone maneuver.” This move was so good that the U.S. Army even decided to use it themselves. In the video, he describes how he set up artillery fire with his platoon and taunted the enemy soldiers to draw them across the river into a trap.

In a lively retelling, Otero Barreto describes how the North Vietnamese soldiers unwittingly walked into the trap, attempted to escape, and were cut off from their objective. “If you want to fight, I’ll wait for you,” he told them. “If you don’t want to fight, I’ll be behind you.” The combatants were force to surrender.

Otero Barreto also personally assaulted a machine gun emplacement. Mallory explains that Jorge’s tactics and bravery resulted in the largest mass surrender of the Vietnam War.

Otero Barreto’s tactics and bravery resulted in the largest mass surrender of the Vietnam War.

Otero Barreto’s record

Sergeant First Class Jorge Otero Barreto completed over 200 missions in his five years of fighting in Vietnam. He received five Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Member of the 502nd Infantry Regiment award. He was also awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, and four Army Commendations medals. In all, he received 38 medals and honors, making him one of the most highly-decorated soldiers of the Vietnam War.

Born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, Barreto studied Biology at the University of Puerto Rico. He chose to enter the Army instead of continuing to medical school as he had planned. He undertook basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Jump School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the Army Air Assault School.

The town of Vega Baja named it military museum, the Jorge Otero Barreto Museum, after him. They also named him their Citizen of the Year in 2011.

The Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for military valor in combat in the United States military. It has been awarded to the most exceptional soldiers, seamen, and airmen over the past 150 years. Ever since the Civil War, this award has been the highest honor for American military men and women.

“I was a soldier,” says Otero Barreto toward the end of the video. “I was a soldier proud of himself. I was a soldier proud of his people.”

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