During World War I, World War II and the Korean War, there was a unit, the 65th Infantry Regiment, comprised of mostly Latino soldiers. They are known as The Borinqueneers. Their motto is Honor et Fidelitas, which is Latin for Honor and Fidelity. They were an all-volunteer unit.
Although there were a few soldiers of other Latino origin and European American soldiers, the regiment was made mostly of Puerto Rican Americans, according to another article.
During World War II, the unit earned 2 Silver Stars, 22 Bronze Stars and 90 Purple Hearts. During the Korean War, 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, 256 Silver Stars and 606 Bronze Stars for valor were awarded to the men of the 65th Infantry.
However, one medal still eludes this unit: the Congressional Gold Medal. This medal is the highest civilian award in the United States given to persons “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.”
“The Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Act” (H.R. 1726) was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in April by Pedro Pierluisi and Bill Posey. There is an Alliance group that is dedicated to helping the unit receive the medal. On the Alliance’s website you can find out ways to help make sure the unit is awarded this prestigious medal.
In addition to this, there are other things happening to help make sure that these soldiers are remembered. Two of the soldiers’ daughters are currently working to make sure the history of the 65th regiment will not be forgotten. Norberto Cartagena’s daughter is “soliciting funding for ‘The Forgotten War,’ a movie about the exploits of these legendary warriors.” Haydee Camacho has done research on the history of the unit and has written an essay about her father who passed away in 2001.
By Being Latino Contributor, Christina Ortega Phillips