Honor and Fidelity
Today; homage is paid to the 65th Infantry Regiment of Puerto Rico aka the "Borinqueneers" recipients of the
U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; all this despite suffering racial discrimination and segregation.
On Wednesday, April 13, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate presented a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers (named after the original Taino Indian name for the island) for its pioneering military service, devotion to duty, and many acts of valor in the face of adversity.
The 65th Infantry is a Puerto Rican regiment of the United States Army that bravely fought and served the U.S. during times of combat, including World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. For its extraordinary service to the nation in the Korean War, the Regiment earned nine Distinguished Service Crosses, approximately 250 Silver Stars, over 600 Bronze Stars, and more than 2,700 Purple Hearts.
Congressman Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR) and Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) of Florida, who worked together to draft and secure House passage of the bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Regiment, spoke at the event. So, too, did Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who led the parallel effort in the U.S. Senate. In addition, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took part in the bipartisan, bicameral ceremony.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor the United States Congress can bestow. In accordance with Public Law No: 113-120, a single gold medal has been struck to honor the 65th Infantry Regiment, the Borinqueneers for its valor, determination, and bravery displayed during the Korean War.
The ceremony took place on April 13, 2016, at 3:00 PM ET in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol, and is available for viewing on CSPAN. Prior to the ceremony, the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony National Committee held wreath presentations at the Tomb of the Unknown & the Borinqueneers monument in Arlington, the World War II Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial. A National Awards Reception followed the unveiling ceremony.
One of the most famous battles for the Borinqueneers was late January 1951 found them south of the Korean capital of Seoul, under orders to take two hills being held by the Chinese 149th Division. The assault began on January 31st, and took three days. On the morning of the third day the top of the hills were within reach, and two battalions of the 65th fixed bayonets and charged straight at the enemy positions. The Chinese fled.
On another of their legendary battles on Christmas Eve 1950, when the US Marines were encircled by the Chinese Communist troops close to the Manchurian border, the Marines were forced to retreat and work their way back to Hungnam. The 65th Inf. Regiment Borinqueneers rushed to their defense, covered the US Marines retreat and stayed behind to fight the enemy.
In 1951, General Douglas MacArthur said of the Borinqueneers, The Puerto Ricans forming the ranks of the gallant 65th Infantry give daily proof on the battlefields of Korea of their courage, determination and resolute will to victory, their invincible loyalty to the United States and their fervent devotion to those immutable principles of human relations which the Americans of the Continent and of Puerto Rico have in common. They are writing a brilliant record of heroism in battle and I am indeed proud to have them under my command. I wish that we could count on many more like them.