Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

More than Military

TITO PUENTE
Musician and Grammy Award Winner

Tito Puente, the musician who has been internationally recognized for his contributions to Latin music, is a veteran who called the GI Bill one of the best decisions of his life.

During World War II, Puente was drafted into military service. For the next three years, Puente served on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the South Pacific.

During his time in the military, Puente taught himself to play the saxophone. After his discharge from military service, Puente furthered his musical education using the GI Bill to enroll in New York's legendary Juilliard School of Music, where he studied composition, orchestration, and conducting.

Tito Puente is best known for his all-time best-selling 1958 mambo album Dance Mania. His eclectic career transcended all cultural and generational boundaries. He has recorded with rocker Carlos Santana; appeared in several films; received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and performed for an audience of millions on The David Letterman Show.

In 1979 Puente won his first Grammy Award. He had performed at the White House since the administration of President Jimmy Carter.

By the end of his career, Puente had recorded 100 albums, published more than 400 compositions, and won four Grammy awards. In 2000, he received The Latin Grammy for Best Traditional Tropical Performance.

From humble beginnings to fame and fortune - that's the power of the GI Bill.



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