On Wednesday, April 13, Veterans of the U.S. Army’s 65th Infantry Regiment, the unit of Puerto Rican soldiers that served in World War I, World War II and Korean War were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony at Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol. These soldiers, known as the “Borinqueneers,” answered the nation’s call to serve at a time when the military was still segregated. They were the largest, longest standing and only active duty segregated Latino military unit in U.S. history.

It was Lt. Teófilo Marxuach’s unit of the 65th Infantry Regiment that was stationed at El Morro Castle at San Juan Bay that fired warning shots at a German supply ship trying to force its way out of the San Juan Bay. Those would be the first shots fired by the United States in World War I. By the time the Korean War had ended, soldiers from the 65th Infantry Regiment had earned 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, about 250 Silver Stars, over 600 Bronze Stars and 3,000 Purple Hearts.

Borinqueneer Veterans, most of them in their 80s and 90s, attended the ceremony hosted by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and other leaders of Congress. “This honor is long overdue. But I want you all to know that Veterans of Puerto Rico have never been forgotten by the American people,” said VA Secretary Bob McDonald in his remarks at the ceremony.

In two weeks, McDonald will travel to Puerto Rico to personally deliver the Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the 65th Infantry Regiment beneath the walls of El Morro. He will host a Veterans Town Hall with Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who wrote the legislation for Congressional Gold Medal that was signed by President Obama in 2014.

Secretary McDonald will also visit with Veterans at Casa de Veterano in Juana Diaz and the Puerto Rico National Cemetery “to pay my respects on behalf of a nation to the Borinqueneers who did not live to see this day, but who are finally now receiving the recognition they so richly deserve,” he said. “They will always be remembered. That’s President Lincoln’s promise. That’s VA’s promise. And that’s my promise as well.”

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Published on Apr. 14, 2016

Estimated reading time is 1.9 min.

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26 Comments

  1. Pedro Gonzalez April 27, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    My dad served in the 65th 3rd battalion how can i apply for hhis metal i have his discharge please advice me thank you

  2. Iraida Lopez-King April 18, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    My father was part of the Borinqueneers and he registered on the site as we were advice to do. My question is for the recognition in Puerto Rico on the 27th of April in San Juan, where should I go to get information? I want to take my father that now is 88 years of age and is one of the few survivors. Please, if someone could direct me to the right site to get the information I would really appreciate it.

  3. Felicito Estrella April 18, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Para todos mis respetos Y No preguntes qué la nación hace por nosotros si no que hacemos por la nación y hustedes se ganaron ese respeto.Mis RESPETO PARA TODOS

    USMC

  4. John Ramos April 18, 2016 at 7:27 am

    As a Vietnam vet, I salute the many sacrifices and hardships endured by the 65th regiment form my homeland. Not only bigotry but weather changes and the assignments of front line duties. They served proudly and stood for liberty, the American way. As a fellow Puerto Rican I salute them and everyone that has served in the military to preserve our Freedom.

  5. john basile April 18, 2016 at 6:21 am

    I also thank my fellow vererans who served. I am one of those veteran(korea) soldiers. But I believe you made an error. There is no such medal as mentioned. The Medal is called Medal of Honor. Nothing congressional about it. Tnamk you..

  6. Conrad M Sylvestrelamb April 17, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Even to this day some of us are overlooked or forgotten You can’t receive a bronze star you don’t have enough rank .E 7 and above only , nothing extraordinary just being a PLT SGT . Fobbits all of them .Award the deserving not ballpoint power Rangers with velcro bottoms

  7. Ramon Rodriguez April 17, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Todos ellos son mis heroes, no es lo mismo aquillos que sabian el language y podian tener mas precaución durante las batallas. La valentia de estos soldados puertoriquenos siempre a sido demostrada, en el pasado y en la actualidad. Aunque hubierón muchas muertes, muchos heridos, fuimos parte de esta batalla que llevo a Ejercito de los Estado Unidos a su triunfo. Dios Bendiga el ejercitos de los Estados Unidos, Los Borinqueneers. Dios Bendiga America. Gracias al Presidente Obahma por este reconocimiento a ellos “Mis heroes, Viva los Borinqueneers.”

  8. Noel Pelegrina April 16, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    As a Boricua and AF Vietnam era vet, I’m very proud of what the Boriqueneers did for the U.S. and PR. God bless them all.

  9. EDWIN A VAZQUEZ COLON April 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    MY FATHER WAS PART OF THE 65TH REGIMENT AND WAS NOT NOTIFIED. HE IS 91.
    W&AT DO I NEED TO GET HIS AWARD?

  10. EDWIN A VAZQUEZ COLON April 16, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    HOLA QUE PASO AUE NO TODOS LOS,MIEMBROS FUERON AVISADOS? MI PAPA ESTUVO EN ESE REGIMIENTO Y NOS ENTERAMOSCEL DIA,QUE PASO. EL AUN VIVE Y VA A CUMPLIR 91 AÑOS EN,JULIO.
    QUE DEBO HACER PARA SU RECONOCIMIENTO Y MEDALLA?

  11. Angelo Miranda (VietNam USN RM2) April 16, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    To finally receive recognition for this – is a great thing. I salute the Boriqueneers for their courage and bravery. I just hope this recognition extends beyond the confines of the award ceremonies.

  12. Sophie C Colon April 15, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    My husband served in WWI and the Korean War. He was Puerto Rican and died in 2011. Wish he was here to receive this award too. We were from Aibonito, PR.

    Would there be any way to get his dog tags?

  13. R.W. Foster April 15, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Our youth should be reading about those who gave so much so they could live in a country that offers so much. So many opportunities. Unbelievable how people treat each other, there is plenty for everyone if they just make the effort to be kind.

  14. Victor J Gonzalez Belen April 15, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    It is with great pride that I mention the contribution made by our DAV Kel-Lac Chapter 114 Commander Luis A. Cortes, our Executive Officers and all Chapter 114 members and the collaboration of Frank Medina, National Chair to The Borinqueneers Congressional Medal of Honor (CGM), Senator Letticia Van de Putte, whom with the Texas Senate passed the Borinqueneers Proclamation and Resolution No. 480, The Office of Texas Senator Carlos I. Uresti and The Office of Representative Rick Galindo and on October 3, 2015 Honor the following members of the 65th Infantry Regiment members at Casa Helotes, Helotes Texas: Heriberto De Jesus, Reyes Andres Del Valle, Emiliano Gorgas-Cabrera, Rudy Gutib-Morton, Enrique Hernandez, Victor Lopez-Nieves, Ismael Nevarez, Bonifacio Roldan-Galarza and Angel Rosario “for their service and sacrifices made in defense of the United States of America during Wartime in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. My respect and admiration for their Gallantry and distinction in battle to all the Borinqueneers.

  15. steve alicea April 15, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    why they do not show an article of the event in daily news

  16. Carlos M. Parrado April 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I would like to share something about the 65th Infantry Regiment & the Korean War.
    I attended 1975-1979 The Citadel Military College of SC. The Commandant of Cadets, Col. Walter B. Clark told me that he was a platoon leader & in one of the battles, his 1st SG, threw himself upon a grenade & saved Lt. Clark’s life. Col. Clark also recounted with tears in his eyes, the words of 1SG “Sir I got it” as he threw himself on top of the grenade.
    To the brave men of the 65th Regiment
    my salute and admiration.
    Que Dios los bendiga a todos.
    Carlos M. Parrado, MD
    LTC Retired, Iraq War Veteran

  17. Norberto Concepcion April 15, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    I am a Vietman Veteran and Boricua, we have being involved in all wars, military action, history tells all.
    God Bless my little island in the sun.
    Que Viva Puerto Rico

  18. C. A. Cespedes (SGM, Retire) April 15, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    It’s about time for all these heroes to be recognized. I remember when I went to Basic Infantry Training at Fort Benning, GA. My battle body, Jose Burgos, from Jayuya, PR told me that his father was one of those who fought in the Korean war. I remember that every time he talked about his father tears will flow of his eyes. He told me his father was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by saving his squad by getting hit with a grenade thrown by the enemy in their position. For me it was an honor to listen to him talk about his father and the 65th infantry. This is a long waited recognition to these heroes but well deserved “jibaritos” brothers in arms. As I am a retired Sergeant Major after serving 32 years to this beautiful country always remember “Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier, Soldiers for Life” I salute you my brothers.

  19. Rey Torres April 15, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    “Saludos Hermanos” Nunca Olvidados” Pero porque tardo tanto tiempo?

  20. Linda April 15, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    What happens to those who were unable to go to Washington, but are still living and part of the 65th inf.?? Do they get the same medal? I have a friend who is 91 years old and a Korean Veteran but was unable to attend in Washington. He will be attending in the celebration you will be having in El Morro on the 27th. Will those attending which did not receive a medal also get one??? It would only be fair that they should be recognized as the others. Let’s see if it happens for they all deserve the recognition and the medal. Felicidades para todos y gracias por su servicio.

  21. Jose M. Andujar (LTC-USA Ret) April 15, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Wow, unbelievable that took this long to recognize an outstanding breed of “Jibaritos” Fighters. Thank you Lord for your great Mercy over these great fighters who sacrifice so much for the freedom of expression.

    • Jose Guzman April 17, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      Iam a veteran, and my first wife step dad was a Vietnam hero, who I bow down and take my hat off, to thanks him for his braveness, but my actual father in law is the real hero here, he serve the boriqueneers, and the 65th infantry division, he was deploy to Korea and serve as company commander driver, he was shot in the right arm and he was send to Okinawa for recovery and later discharge, he is 85 years old, he raise three daughter and had throat cancer, now in the final days of his live he suffered from lost of memories, he can’t move his right arm, because of his injuries, but not once I hear that man complained, and VA never recognized his injuries and hasn’t help him, to me that is the true hero, one who do not sit down and wait for other to help him, but pick up himself and keep pushing foward, GOD may bless you always my second father, I honor you this day. His name VIRGILIO (yiyo) RAMOS.

  22. RUBEN LISOJO April 15, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Bravo!

  23. Jaime Manzano April 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    My father was a member of the 65th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. On his way to Korea in a Navy ship he was detailed to stay in the Panama Canal zone. Many of his friends that continue to Korea were eventually killed but may father like many other Veterans never talked about it. About 8 years ago my father started talking about wanting to go to Panama before he died so my older brother and I surprised him with a trip. It was one of the best experiences in my life. To see my quite and not emotional father walked along the Panama Canal with tears in his eyes was something that I will never forget.
    Papi, the quiero mucho y siempres seras my heroe.

  24. Charles J. Jusino April 15, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Great. It’s about time. These veterans answered the call to duty for THEIR nation. The most decorated unit. Fought battles that no one else would fight. And their bravery turned the tide towards a US victory in Korea. Well deserved. From one Puert Rican Veteran (Vietnam Nam) to another…”I SALUTE YOU, MY BROTHERS”. “Congratulations, Borinqueneers”

    • Emilianoo Gorgas April 27, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to serve as a member of Company D 65th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War as a Machine Gunner (Heavy Weapons Platoon; dates: 15 January 1951 to 17 February 1952.. I was one of the Replacement/Trainees – Sent from the Basic U. S. Army Training Center, Camp Tortuguero, Near Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. We only had the Infantry Training – only 8 weeks of BCT…. We never had any other advance training or AIT that would make us more effective as combat soldiers. We sailed in the U.S N S Transport Ship Charles Boudoine from Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico – through the Panama Canal; we all were under impression hat we were to be assigned to some of the Infantry unites still assigned to the Panama Canal Zone BUT, BUT,….We didn’t stop in Panama except to pick some other troops……then, we woke up the next day and we were already going into the Pacific Ocean – to the Island of HAWAII – the ship had to doc at the Oahu next to the Waikiki – we were lucky enough to stay there for about a week waiting for the Ship to be ready to go to our nest destination. At our surprise, the next morning we heard through the Loud Speakers with a Message from the SHIPS CAPTAIN – Now here this, now here this – We are on our way to Tokyo Japan and later on you Sailors and Soldiers will be heading for Korea…That surprised ALL of Boriqueneers — We will be ALL assigned to the 65th Infantry Regiment. — Corporal Ramon Otero said ”wishful thinking “” Actually, many of us were sent to the Taegu, Korea – and most of us finally joined the 65th Infantry, U. S. Army 3rd Infantry Division…

      During the year that I served in combat with the 65th – we had many combat experiences and lost many men killed in action and other severely wounded.; unfortunately (or fortunately) I was one of the troops that were wounded and was sent to the Osaka Army Hospital in Japan. From there I was returned back to Korea – but they made a mistake and transferred me to the Greek Brigade instead. They thought that I was a Greek soldier…. At the time, I thought that I was of Greek descendant rather than a Spaniard. No, no, NO! told them that I was a Puerto Rican – American Citizen…

      HOWEVER…… Fortunately, I was able to speak with the Assistant Commander, of the Greek Brigade; He did not know what to do. I asked him if I could stay attached to the Greek Brigade as a forward observer or any other duty which I could contribute to both the Greeks and my own 65th Infantry Regiment.

      Actually, I am from Spaniard roots, My ancestors came from Sitges, Barcelona and later they moved 1820-1850 Puerto Rico as Merchants.. My parents had a Farm in Barrio Cuchillas. Corozal…. Many of the families that were residing in Barrio Cuchillas were also came from the same location in Sitges, Barcelona..

      I have other data/information to share with the former members that served with the 65th during the Korean War.

      Respectfully,

      Emiliano Gorgas
      U.S.Army-Retired CWO August 1971

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