A Soldier's Story: Private First Class James Harvey Booth

A Soldier's Story: Sergeant Rafael Hernandez Marin

Sergeant Rafael Hernandez Marin was born in Aguadilla Puerto Rico on October 24th, 1892.  As a child, he earned his living by making cigars, but by twelve, he could fulfill his love of music by studying in San Juan.

Sergeant Rafael Marin could play several instruments, including the clarinet, tuba, trombone, violin, piano, and guitar, and by fourteen was playing for the Cocolia Orchestra.

While working as a musician in North Carolina, James Reese Europe, a Jazz bandleader, recruited him, his brother Jesus, and other Puerto Ricans to join the Orchestra Europe, the military band of the 369th Infantry, known as the Harlem Hellfighters. He deployed to France for World War I.

Orchestra Europe is considered the band that started the love of Jazz in Britain and France.

After World War I, Sergeant Rafael Marin formed several bands, and continued to compose. He also directed the Teatro Fausto in Havana, studied at the Mexico National Music Conservatory, and was the director of the Orchestra at WIPR radio, Puerto Rico's government-owned station.

Sergeant Marin is also considered the founder of minor league baseball in Puerto Rico.

On December 11th, 1965, he died of cancer and was posthumously inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame.  Sergeant Rafael Hernandez Marin is considered one of the best Latin composers in the world.

Sergeant Rafael Hernandez Marin's song, "Preciosa," in which he describes his love of Puerto Rico, was covered by Marc Antony, who sang it at Madison Square Gardens.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

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