Borinqueneers of the 65th Infantry Regiment Honored with Congressional Gold Medal
The 65th Infantry Regiment was founded in 1899 when Spain relinquished Puerto Rico to the United States after the Spanish American War. It’s nickname is “The Borinqueneers” a name that relates to the name of the Island of Puerto Rico before the Spanish colonized it. Their unit motto is “Honor et Fidelitas,” latin for Honor and Fidelity.
Congress created an act on March 2, 1898, authorizing the formation of the first native unit in Puerto Rico. On July 1, 1908, Congress incorporated the regiment into the Regular Army as the Puerto Rico Regiment. That unit would be activated and see its first combat in 1917 in WWI.
The Borinqueneers would see service in WWII at places like Naples-Foggia, Central Europe, and the Battle of the Rhineland. In Korea they saw action in Operation Killer, the Battle of Cherwon, “Jackson Heights” and Outpost Kelly, and they served again in Vietnam.
In the 21st century, elements of the 65th Infantry Regiment have served the country in the War Against Terrorism and in Operations Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom. In 2009 Company C, 1st Bn., 65th Infantry Regiment was deployed to the Horn of Africa and stationed at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, where they protected U.S. and allied ships at the massive Djibouti Port and guarded the U.S. embassy there. This area was considered the most unstable part of Africa with the Somali border less than 10 miles from Camp Lemonnier.
Many Borinqueneers have served with distinction. One such Puerto Rican hero mentioned in this video is Santiago Rodriguez. He served both in Korea and in Vietnam and was awarded 2 Silver Stars with “V” device, 2 Bronze Stars with “V” device and a Distinquished Service Medal, among others.
During the Korean War the 65th Infantry Regiment suffered 700 casualties and 122 of the Borinqueneers are listed as MIA. During Vietnam, 48,000 Puerto Ricans served in the four branches of the armed forces. 345 were KIA and 18 were listed as MIA.
As a result of the dedication and service of tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans in the armed forces of the United States of America the 65th Infantry Regiment was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on April 13, 2016.
Puerto Ricans have served in all branches of our armed forces over the years. This author wishes to honor the memory of my best friend’s father, Ruben Navarro, who served in the United States Navy during WWII. He was like a second father to me, a man of uncommon wisdom.
Yo te recuerdo, popi.
The Veterans Site is honored to remember the legacy and the continuing service of the 65th Infantry Regiment’s “Borinqueneers.” This unit has shown its metal and its dedication to the nation for over 120 years now. They have proven their motto “Honor et Fedelitas” (Honor and Fidelity) over and over again in service to this country.
We promise to never forget your service.