After his grandparents fled the tyranny of communist Cuba, Zach Calzada, the “Cuban Missile,” is now living the American dream his Cuban family came in search of here in the U.S.
‘Cuban Missile’ Zach Calzada Embodies American Dream
Zach Calzada’s personal route to the starting quarterback job at Texas A&M stretches across the length and breadth of SEC country, but the Calzada family’s story begins in Cuba amid the tumultuous takeover of the island by the communist regime of Fidel Castro in the late 1950s.
Zach’s journey to his first college start for the No. 5-ranked Aggies against New Mexico on Saturday night, a week after coming off the bench to pace the Aggies to a nail-biting 10-7 win over Colorado, shows the same determination and ingenuity exhibited by his grandparents, Hector and Maria Del Carmen Calzada, who fled Cuba 60 years ago in search of a better life.
The family odyssey has stretched from Panama to Florida, Missouri and Georgia and now, for Zach and his sister Carolyn, who has committed to play soccer for the Aggies, to College Station.
Time to flee
Grandfather Hector Calzada Sr. knew it was time to leave Cuba after the Castro regime stripped his U.S.-educated father Agustin of his three pharmacies and most of the family’s wealth. He tried to apply for an exit visa but was greeted outside the U.S. embassy by two lines of applicants, each of which stretched four blocks outside the embassy.
Unable to arrange a direct route to the United States, Hector Calzada Sr. and his wife left Cuba on Oct. 25, 1960, for Panama, under the guise of a delayed honeymoon. They settled in Panama for six months and then departed for the U.S. with little but the clothes on their back.
Hector was 30 years old. Maria, a registered nurse, was 28.
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