An Army Staff Sergeant from the City of Newburgh, who was widely recognized for heroic actions while serving in combat, passed away in 2019 at the young age of 46. Now, the Newburgh City Council has named a street after him and posthumously awarded him the key to the city.
Staff Sergeant Santiago Frias joined the US Army in 1996. He was later deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On March 7, 2004, Frias’ unit was ambushed while working in the City of Kirkuk, Iraq. Frias was shot multiple times. Despite his injuries, he was able to return fire and helped save the lives of two fellow soldiers. He was taken to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Iraq.
Just 12 days later, on March 19, 2004, President George W. Bush visited Frias at his hospital bed in Iraq. President Bush presented him with the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
After returning home to New York City following his deployment, Frias moved to the City of Newburgh in 2005. He embraced the City of Newburgh community. He attended Mount Saint Mary College, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.
Frias utilized his new college education to help adults get back on their feet. He taught Taekwondo at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center to instill discipline and confidence in the community youth.
On January 23, 2019, Frias passed away at the age of 46. He left behind a wife, daughter and two sons. He was buried at St. Raymond’s Cemetery with full military honors.
In 2020, the New York City Council renamed a portion of West 183rd Street in the University Heights section of the Bronx as “Staff Sergeant Santiago Frias Way.” This was the community that Frias hailed from and returned to following his injury.
On November 14, 2022, Frias was posthumously awarded the ceremonial “Key to the City” during a City Council meeting.
On Saturday, April 15, 2023, the Newburgh City Council joined with Frias’ friends and family to dedicate the southeast intersection of Plank Road and Robinson Avenue as “SSG Santiago Frias Way.”