Honoring the Memory of Sgt. Luis Guillermo Acosta
Sgt. Luis Guillermo Acosta was born in Aguirre, Puerto Rico on October 10, 1921 and died at the Veterans Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico on August 22, 2012 aged 90 years, 10 months and 11 days.
He was the son of don Benigno Acosta Fornell and doña Amanda Flores. Don Benigno was a trained sugar chemist and a merchant owner of a grocery store in Maunabo. He was also an Army veteran having served in 1902 in the Puerto Rico Provisional Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army. Before marriage, doña Amanda worked as a telephone operator in Guayama. Her father, don Manuel Flores worked as a majordomo at The Aguirre Sugar Cane Mill and introduced her then-to-be husband to working in the sugar mills.
Luis Guillermo Acosta was born into a family of nine children, four boys and five girls. While he was only nineteen years old, he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army on June 19, 1941.
It was while at Fort Buchanan, where Puerto Rican soldiers were deployed for WW II where he met Miss Catalina Adrover Serrano. She, like many other young women of the times, worked there during the war effort. She met him as “Acosta” and never stopped calling him by his last name. She was the daughter of don Damian Adrover Planas, a farmer native of Mallorca, Spain who immigrated to Puerto Rico in 1897, and doña Juana Serrano Torres, born in Jayuya, Puerto Rico, when Puerto Rico was still a Province of Spain.
And so it was, while the whole world was at war this young couple was falling in love. In spite of the war and the uncertainty it bred in Puerto Rico and around the world, they chose love. They married on April 4, 1944. The groom, a young Corporal at the time, proudly wore his Army uniform. The bride was strikingly beautiful in a wedding dress that came with its own family history. Miss Carmen Teresa Acosta, the groom’s older sister, first wore the beautiful wedding dress. It eventually became a family heirloom to be coveted by all the Acosta girls as they became of marriage age, as well as for the brides of the Acosta boys.
In 1945 while serving in Germany this young American Patriot from Puerto Rico was granted a short leave of absence that allowed him to be with his wife Catalina and his first-born child – a baby girl. He returned to Germany where he thought his younger brother Nelson would join him, but he had been deployed to the Philippines where he contracted malaria three times and was finally sent home to recover his strength.
Luis Guillermo Acosta finally came home at the end of the war. During those peace filled years another girl was born to this couple, but peace was not long-lived. He was once again called to war, this time to Korea. United States was in the middle of a cold war with Russia (then USSR) whose Dictator, Joseph Stalin, hungering for power and the spread of communism, gave Kim II Sung of North Korea the go-ahead to invade and conquer South Korea. As China had also turned communist, its leader Mao Tse Tung also conceded to the invasion of South Korea. President Harry S. Truman, realizing Russia’s play for control of the world, supported South Korea, a move that had not been anticipated by Stalin and his communist allies. A move that was imperative to the preservation of the American way of life.
In dire urgency, Puerto Rico’s 65th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army was again deployed from Fort Buchanan. A nine-years-older Luis Guillermo Acosta was deployed on August 18, 1950. If the first time he traveled from his native Puerto Rico nearly 4,776 miles to fight in Germany during World War II, he certainly doubled the mileage traveling to drive the communists out of Korea, a country unknown to him.
While fighting in Korea his wife doña Catalina gave birth to another girl. And, on March 13, 1951 the now Sergeant Luis Guillermo Acosta finally came home, this time for good.
Whenever anyone would ask him about the war, he would talk about the cold and the snow, recalling how his breath would turn into a thick cloud of white smoke in a cold he had never experienced in the warm sun of his Borinquen. Of the battles of the Borinqueneers, whether lost or won, he kept a long silence that was broken only to say: “It had to be fought. We had to keep the communists from taking over the world.”
Sergeant Acosta and his wife Catalina had a total of four children. The last one was a boy named after him, born in time of peace.
Submitted by his niece, Mildred Berríos-McMahan
Note: Doña Catalina died on October 4, 1994.