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Puerto Rico Profile: Euripides Rubio

September 24, 1999
Copyright © 1999 THE PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

This article is the second in a series of four profiles on Puerto Ricans who have been recognized by the most distinguished award offered to military service personnel by the United States government.


We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.
-Shakespeare, Henry V, Act, IV, Scene 3

Euripides Rubio's shed his blood in Vietnam. Rubio's "inspiration got us into the thickest fighting and most of us paid the price for it willingly just as he did," Enrique V. Pujals said. "None of us begrudged him anything and least of all the recognition for his example."

Euripides Rubio was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was the second Puerto Rican to receive the honor and one of 1,225 Puerto Ricans to lose their lives in the service of their country.

Born March 1, 1938 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he enlisted in the US Army at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, and rose to the rank of Captain in the 1st Battalion, of the 28th Infantry.

Rubio's efforts during the Vietnam War reflect not only his dedication to his country, but his commitment to the men he commanded. "Captain Rubio was well liked by the men who served with him and [was] quite an inspiring leader." Pujals remembers Rubio as his company commander when he entered active duty in September of 1964. Pujals was one of the thirteen platoon leaders in Rubio's company when they volunteered for Vietnam in late July of 1965. Many of the company were ordered to Vietnam to fill the ranks of the first and second Battalions of the 7th US Cavalry Regiment. Many were from Puerto Rico and of these "most ended up as casualties" in the Ia Drang Valley battles of November 1965, either killed or wounded. "I felt very sad when I heard the news that [Rubio] had been killed," Pujals, one of the wounded from the battle, said. At the time of Rubio's death in Tay Ninh Province November 8, 1966, Pujals was stationed at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, recovering after seven months in a hospital bed.

Rubio's citation gives a chilling account of bravery under the worst conditions possible. "Intense enemy machine-gun fire raked the area while mortar rounds and rifle grenades exploded within the perimeter." Rubio infiltrated the area of the most intense birage of enemy fire to distribute ammunition, re-establish positions and render aid to the wounded. For this, he was wounded twice. Despite these wounds, however, he assumed command when a rifle company commander was medically evacuated. Then he was wounded a third time in his attempt to move among his men to "encourage them to fight with renewed effort."

As he was helping to evacuate other wounded personnel, he discovered a smoke grenade had fallen too close to friendly lines. In preparation for friendly airstrikes, the smoke grenades were used to mark the Viet Cong position. Captain Rubio intended to avert an unnecessary tragedy and ran to reposition the grenade. He was immediately "struck to his knees" by enemy fire. Despite his many wounds, he grabbed the grenade, lumbering through the deadly onslaught of enemy gunfire, and made it to within 20 meters of the enemy position. Hurling the already smoking grenade into the midst of the enemy, he fell for the final time.

His death made a difference. The hostile position was destroyed because the friendly air strikes were able to use the repositioned grenade as a marker.

"Captain Rubio's singularly heroic act turned the tide of the battle, and his extraordinary leadership and valor were a magnificent inspiration to his men."

The Congressional Medal of Honor speaks of his bravery and selfless concern, in keeping with the highest traditions of military service. His service gives credit to himself, his heritage, his country and the legacy he leaves behind.

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