Robinson Santiago

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
16 March 1949 - 25 February 1969
New York, New York
Panel 31W Line 057


Robinson Santiago

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Robinson Santiago

04 Dec 2002

Robinson's nephew, who was named for him, had contacted me recently to discover his name sake who he never knew. I mentioned I was going to a 2/9 Reunion and would inquire about his Uncle. I had limited knowledge of Robinson but I knew he was killed in action at the same moment in history that Bill Morgan was killed and Bob Ballou was wounded. Bob was pretty well shot up, six rounds, but remembered the individual behind him when he was wounded.

While at the Wall in November other Marines who were at the reunion pointed out the fact that Robinson was that Marine who was behind Ballou and was killed at the same time Bob was wounded. After the reunion I was again contacted by Robinson's nephew and confirmed to him that it was his Uncle that was behind Bob and I was able to get him in touch with Bob so he could discover the man for which he was named.

As a side note, five days earlier 02/20/1969, when we were in Laos, Bob Ballou stood over me after I was hit and kept those individuals who wished to finish me off away from me until I could be moved back for medical attention. Bob is my guardian angel.

From a fellow Marine,
Allen H Brooks

2nd Bn, 9th Marines

Robinson Santiago
Photo courtesy of his nephew, Robinson Santiago

07 Dec 2002

Upon hearing about this page to my uncle I was so proud that those men who had served with him had made the effort to memorialize my uncle this way. I never knew my uncle personally but being his namesake my grandmother told me every story she could about this son of hers. She loved him for his caring nature, smile, his willingess to help those weaker even though he was small in stature. He was her favorite although she never said so. I could tell just by that smile she had when she spoke of him.

I would not do this page justice if I didn't include a little bit about who my uncle was.

Robinson Santiago was born in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico. As a small boy he was always into mischief. At a very young age he and his parents and two brothers migrated to the U.S. and settled down in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. He was a boy always in fight - not as a bully but protecting those being bullied. He dropped out of high school after a fight in which he was defending himself against a bigger boy who wanted his lunch. My grandmother had him go to Wilmington, Delaware, for a while with his cousin until he cooled down. Upon his return he decided to join the Marine Corps rather than being drafted. He felt with the Marines he could do a shorter enlistment and possibly avoid going to Vietnam. He went to Boot Camp at Parris Island, S.C. Many letters where written but in one he told his mother "Mom this place is a good as a toothache". He graduated and went to Camp Lejune, N.C. for rifleman school. Once done he came home on leave with the word that he would be shipping out to Vietnam. A big party was thrown and many people came around to say goodbye. He flew out of JFK International Airport and my grandmother although crying could only smile when he turned around in the terminal and waved goodbye with that smile of his.

He then went to California for some training I believe at Camp Pendleton and shipped out to Vietnam. He wrote a few letters and all spoke of how tired he was already and he only been around a month or so. On Feb 25th he would tire no more. What happened that day has been told to me by both Mr. Brooks and Mr. Ballou and the story was confirmed before that by two other members of his command, James White and Steve Smothers. Most of the action that day can be read on Morgan's MOH citation. Word of his death wasn't received by his parents till early March and they received the body in the middle of the month. The pain was too much for his mother and she went into a catatonic state. The only emotion was one time when in prayer she knelt down in front of the flag-draped casket and threw her arms on top of it and yelled out Robi (her nickname for him). My grandfather, a WWII and Korean War veteran, demanded to see the body and the USMC was against it but after some fighting they allowed it. He was reluctant to accept it was his son until he confirmed it since he was aware of errors being made in graves registration. Once that was done Robinson's body was flown back to Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, where he rests. His life is one that is missed by the whole family and friends. I felt like sharing this story that my grandmother insisted on telling me that I may pass it on to my children and that his memory never is forgotten. I intend to fulfill her wish. God Bless you TIO (uncle) and may your reunion with your parents now in heaven be of joy and rest.

From his nephew,
Robinson Santiago

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The references above to "Bill Morgan" and "Morgan's MOH citation" are to Corporal William D. Morgan, who received a posthumous Medal of Honor for his actions on 25 February 1969.

Operation DEWEY CANYON was intended to disrupt the North Vietnamese supply lines into the A Shau Valley and to locate and destroy NVA forces in the area. It was a bloody business, conducted in the heavily jungled hills and valleys of westernmost Quang Tri Province and the immediately adjacent areas of Laos.

On 25 Feb 1969 elements of the 2nd Bn, 9th Marines engaged an NVA force 23 kilometers west of A Luoi village. Although the database shows Quang Tri Province, the grid position given in the 2/9 Marines' operations log lies just south of Route 922, about 3/4 of a mile inside Laos. Eight Marines were killed in the engagement:

  • G Company:
    • Pfc Clifford D. Combs, Marquand, MO

  • H Company:
    • Cpl William D. Morgan, Mount Lebanon, PA (Medal of Honor)
    • LCpl Patrick J. Muraca, Dalton, MA
    • Pfc Porfirio M. Ovalle, San Antonio, TX
    • Pfc Thomas E. Parker, Chesterfield, CT
    • Pfc Fred L. Ricard, Norristown, PA
    • Pfc Robinson Santiago, New York, NY
    • Pfc Joseph R. Schnell, Hampton, VA

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a fellow Marine,
Allen H Brooks

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 4 Dec 2002
Last updated 11/04/2007