Luis R. Esteves

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Major General Luis R. Esteves (1893March 12, 1958), born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, was the first Puerto Rican to graduate from West Point in June 19,1915 and was also the founder of the Puerto Rican National Guard

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Army Mexican Service Medals

Esteves' (born "Luis Raul Esteves Völckers"), father was of German descent and had served in the Spanish Army in Puerto Rico. He came from a long line of militaryman. Esteves received his primary education in Aguadilla and went to high scholl in Mayaguez. Upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the Esteves family welcomed the Americans as an alternative to Spanish rule in the island. Esteves father wanted his son to continue the family military tradition and inspired his son to consider a military career. However, his mother had other plans, she wanted her son to become an engineer and to study in the united States. The family's financial situation did not permit her to realize her dream.

Esteves saw a news advertisement announcing examinations for the entry into the West Point Academy. Without his parents knowledge, he applied, passed the exam and was accepted to West Point, thus becoming the first Puerto Rican to accomplish such a feat. While he attended West Point, he tutored fellow classmate Dwight D. Eisenhower in Spanish. A second language was required in order to graduate. Esteves graduated first in his class which was a feat in itself when considering that Dwight D. Eisenhower(future President) and Omar Bradley where among his fellow classmates.

He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 23rd Infantry of the Army under the command of General Pershing, when he was sent to "El Paso",Texas during the "Pancho Villa Incident". From El Paso, he was sent to the town of "Polvo",Mexico where he was appointed Mayor and judge by its citizens.

Esteves helped organize the 23rd Battalion which would be composed of Puerto Ricans and be stationed in Panama during WWI. He was sent to Camp Las Casas in puerto Rico and served as an instructor in the preparation of Puerto Rican Officers for the Port Rico Regiment of Infantry. He saw an apparent need for a Puerto Rican National Guard. His request was met with approval from the government and the Puerto Rican Legislature. In 1919, the first regiment of the Puerto Rico National Guard was formed and Esteves became the first offical Commandant of the Guard. The resulting regiment was designated to become the glorious 65th Infantry in 1920. In 1946, he reorganized the Puerto Rican National Guard and held the position of Adjutant General until June 1957 when he retired.

General Esteves main hobby was Military history. He also published two books "Los Barrabases" and "Los Soldados Son Así".

Luis R. Esteves died on March 12, 1958 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The U.S. Army named its military installation in San Juan "Gen. Luis R. Esteves" and the street in front of the Puerto Rican National Guards Headquarters was renamed "La Calle Gen. Esteves" in his honor.

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