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Monday, 20 August, 2001, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Hispanic GI Joe goes on sale
GI Joe based on Roy P Benavidez
GI Joe has been a popular toy for more than 40 years
American toymaker Hasbro Inc has unveiled it first version of the action figure GI Joe with an Hispanic surname.

The 30 cm (12 inch) doll is modelled and named after the late Roy P Benavidez, a US army sergeant who served during the Vietnam war.


Roy's courage was unparalleled and we are deeply honoured and humbled to be able to create a figure in his likeness

Derryl DePriest, Marketing Director
During his time in Vietnam Benavidez was awarded the Medal of Honour for saving eight Special Forces soldiers during a jungle battle.

A GI Joe with Hispanic features was released for the first time earlier this year, but it was not modelled after any specific soldier and had no name.

Benavidez, who died in November 1998 was a Texan of Mexican descent.

He received the US military's highest military award in 1981 for bravery under enemy fire.

Role model

In May 1968, Benavidez was wounded in his right leg, face, head, stomach and back, but nonetheless made several helicopter trips ferrying injured soldiers trapped in the jungles of Loc Ninh, Vietnam, to safety.

"A lot of Hispanics use the military service to advance themselves and their careers," said retired Army paratrooper Angel Cordero.

Colin Powell
A GI Joe doll was based on Colin Powell

"Having a Hispanic GI Joe, they will be able to identify a little more with the armed services of this country at an even earlier age."

Derryl DePriest, director of marketing for the GI Joe brand, said while the doll pays tribute to Hispanics' contribution to the US military, Benavidez was chosen for his personal heroism.

"Roy's courage was unparalleled and we are deeply honoured and humbled to be able to create a figure in his likeness," he said.

The toy will start reaching shops in the US this week.

GI Jane

The action figure GI Joe, named after the film "The Story of GI Joe" made his debut in 1964.

In 1969 the GI Joe line was expanded to include all categories of US military and numerous foreign armed forces.

Past real life models for GI Joe include William "The Refrigerator" Perry of the Chicago Bears, Space Shuttle Astronaut Robert Crippen and US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The first female GI Joe figure - a US Army helicopter pilot - was introduced in 1997, under the name GI Jane.

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