Cuban-born actor and entertainer, Alex “Militia” Castro, who starred in NBC’s hit show American Gladiators, rose to success in the United States from humble beginnings.

In 1994, Alex fled Cuba with his cousin and a few friends by boat. After an intense storm, their boat sank, and the group was left with only an inner tube and their will to survive the dangerous shark-infested waters. After five days of being stranded at sea, a navy ship full of sailors and marines rescued them and airlifted the group to a hospital at Guantanamo Bay. Only two survived.

A new law was passed during Alex’s rescue and recovery, keeping him at Guantanamo Bay instead of being processed in Miami, Florida. He remained on base as a civilian detainee, a refugee who would go in to work with the United States military.

“I didn’t expect to ever leave Cuba,” explained Alex. “With the fear of being sent back, I woke up grateful every day of those 18 months at Guantanamo. That rescue and time there greatly influenced who I am today. If I could survive at sea for five days, then I could survive in America.”

Alex not only survived, he rose to stardom. Before this acclaim, however, he joined and served with the United States Marine Corps. “It was my way of giving back to the U.S military who rescued me and gave me the opportunity to follow my dreams,” said Alex, reflecting upon his journey.

After an honorable discharge, Alex appeared in various music videos with major artists such as Will Smith and Gloria Estefan. He joined the prestigious Cirque du Soleil, which allowed him to perform and demonstrate his amazing abilities to sold-out audiences around the world. Five years later, Alex was discovered by an NBC producer while performing for a charity event. This opportunity would lead to the role of gladiator, and of course, the name Militia.

Recently, Alex has had the opportunity to return to Guantanamo Bay through a tour with Armed Forces Entertainment. As he describes, it was a dream come true to return after such a journey.

“Thanks to the military, I’m here. This tour allowed me to honor troops and pay tribute to all who died at sea striving for a better life. I appreciate everything I’ve achieved more because of the road I’ve traveled… Through this tour, I was able to give back to the military that saved my life.”

Alex Castro is truly an example of the American Dream. With hard work and integrity, Alex has become very successful. He continues to embrace life as an entrepreneur, successful businessman, and an American citizen. Through experiences like the AFE tour, Alex dedicates every day of his life to help others the way others helped him.