Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, born in Morovis, Puerto Rico, became the 19th American casualty in Afghanistan this year when he died in a Taliban suicide bombing.
President Donald Trump was planning to meet for talks with Taliban leaders when the news of Barreto Ortiz’s death arrived. In a tweet, Trump said that this event caused him to cancel the secret meeting, scheduled to take place on Sunday at Camp David.
Trump described Barreto Ortiz as “one of our great great soldiers.” The president spoke of Barreto Ortiz again in a speech on 9/11.
An article in Stars and Stripes shared many memories of Barreto Ortiz, describing him as a positive, encouraging leader within his battalion. “He was a great person, honest, caring and full of hopes and dreams,” Julio Torres was quoted as saying.
Others spoke of how generously Barreto Ortiz helped others, and how he kept up the spirits of his comrades. Some said he taught them to ask for and accept help when they needed it.
Barrot Ortiz earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorius Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Combat Action Badge, the Basic Parachutist Badge, the Army Driver and Mechanic Badge.
Barreto Ortiz’s father also served in the U.S.Army. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Puerto Rico’s military record
Puerto Ricans have served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War.
There are records of people from Puerto Rico serving in the Civil War, and as volunteers in World War I and World War II. The Borinqueneers distinguished themselves in the Korean War, and evert since Puerto Rico has sent a higher proportion of men and women into the military than any state.
Ironically, Puerto Rican soldiers and veterans cannot vote for their Commender in Chief. As a territory, Puerto Rico cannot vote in presidential elections.
Updated 9/11/2019 to include video.