Maj. Luis Rodriguez (Ret.)
1st Lt. Ruben Laureano
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – “The Puerto Rican Soldier” Newsletter – September 2002
I just finished reading Issue #7 of April, 2002 where to my surprise, I found the picture of my father, 1st Lt. Ruben Laureano, “F” Co, KIA 1/29/51. I would like to share an anecdote about this picture. The picture was submitted by his friend, Maj. (Ret) Luis R. Rodriguez, who was within yards of him when he was killed. Luis survived because the bullet that hit his chest got lodged in his CIB badge and didn’t penetrate. It was just not his day to die. I was born 2/10/51, twelve days after he died. Dad knew I was “on my way” and referred to me as “Junior” in his countless letters to Mom and conversations with Luis. I kept all those letters as the only means I had to at least imagine who was he. I have all sorts of memorabilia from dad: his helmet, pistol, medals, 48 star flag (coffin), dog tags, watch, wedding ring, original sympathy letters signed by Harry S. Truman, Gen. Douglas McArthur, Ernesto Ramos Antonini and Ines Mendoza de Muñoz Marin, to name a few.
I was in Puerto Rico on April 2001 making arrangements to bring my mother Carmen over to live with me in Florida. She suffered a stroke and was left totally incapacitated. A week after we left, a letter came addressed to her from a Maj. Luis Rodriguez. In the letter, Luis identified himself as being essentially the last man that saw dad alive and survived to tell. All these years he tried unsuccessfully to contact her to share those moments. For Luis it was like unfinished business. When he finally made contact, it was too late. My mother was, not only physically, but mentally incapacitated to understand or recognize or most important, remember. Even though I did not know Luis, I took the initiative and responded to him. I cannot describe that first contact. It is still too emotional for me to describe. Today, Luis and I are best friends and stay in contact.
Luis told me things about Dad that I would have never known otherwise. Chilling details of that early morning at 2AM, 40 degrees below zero. His last words “Luis, I’m hit”. Luis could not finish saying “Don’t talk, we are surrounded” when he also got hit. Thanks to Luis, I now feel that I actually traveled through time and met Dad. The sadness I felt knowing Dad died in agony, not from battle wounds, but from realizing he would not have a chance to see his only son, all that is gone now. The void in my life has vanished. Luis is now my “adopted” father. Thanks Luis, from both of us. May God hold you and your family in the palm of his hand.
Ruben Rafael Laureano Diaz (surviving son)
Carmen Hilda Diaz, Vda. Laureano (surviving spouse)
Ruben Rafael Laureano Arvelo (surviving grandson)
Back in The Puerto Rican Soldier issue # 8 you published my letter to the Editor about my father 1st. LT Ruben Laureano (KIA) and my relationship with his friend Maj. Luis Raul Rodriguez (Ret.) both of “F” Co, 65th Reg. I regret to inform you that Luis passed away on October 11, 2006 at West Palm Beach, Florida from complications of heart and lungs. Luis is now part of that “greatest generation”, who like my father, risked life and limb so that freedom may live and grow forever. And as freedom lives, so do they. Eternal life in a way that most men can only dream to attain. Luis, Dad, until we all meet again, may God hold both of you in the palm of His hand… Submitted by his friend, Rubén R. Laureano Díaz.