From the Defense Department:
During Vietnam, an estimated 48,000 Puerto Ricans served in the four service branches of the armed forces. Of the More than 340 Puerto Ricans died in combat, and 17 were listed as missing in action.
Army Sgt. Jorge Zambrana has post-traumatic stress disorder from his two tours in Vietnam. He remembers picking up service members killed or wounded in action and taking them and their belongings to the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. He also had to work at a cemetery.
He said he did face some racism during his time in Vietnam, but he would just work harder to prove himself. “I would tell my friends to follow the rules,” he said. “We couldn’t shine our boots because we were in the mud. We didn’t have time for inspections.”
He said he didn’t care what race someone was, and that in Vietnam, soldiers learned whatever job was needed. “If the guy got killed, who else was going to do it? Wherever they needed you, forget about your [specialty]. Your job was whatever,” he said.
Zambrana said he’s proud of his service and would do it all over again. “Even though I’m 65, I’m pretty healthy,” he said. “I could still man an M50 or M60. I’m still willing to fight for my freedom. Those of us who served in Vietnam served with honor.”