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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois

BORINQUENEERS’ CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL: RECOGNITION FOR THE SACRIFICES OF PUERTO RICO’S FAMED SOLDIERS

May 19, 2014
Press Release

“Your sacrifice is just one more reason I am proud of

my Puerto Rican heritage,” - Rep. Gutiérrez

 

Washington, DC – Today, The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 1726, bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal on the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers, a unit comprised mainly of Puerto Ricans, which served with distinction in three wars and was most notable for their accomplishments during the Korean War.  The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow.

The following is a statement placed into the Congressional Record by Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), the Chicago-born son of Puerto Rican migrants. 

It is always an honor to recognize the sacrifice and bravery of our men and women in uniform.  Today, as a fellow Puerto Rican, I am pleased to join my colleagues in celebrating the Puerto Rican veterans of the 65th Infantry Regiment, who are known as the Borinqueneers.

The Congressional Gold Medal will be the highest award granted by Congress to a Hispanic active duty unit in U.S. history. The Borinqueneers will be only the second Latino individual or group to receive a Congressional Gold Medal. This recognition of their service and sacrifice is long overdue and I thank the authors, the Governor of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans and veterans from Florida to New York, to Illinois to Colorado who have made sure the accomplishments of the Borinqueneers are preserved and celebrated.

The Borinqueneers served during WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.  The unit was segregated through most of the Korean War and composed primarily of soldiers from the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, but also included recruits from other Latino backgrounds.  In the face of discrimination and segregation, these brave soldiers performed many remarkable military accomplishments and are known for waging the final battalion-sized bayonet assault in U.S. Army history.

These soldiers fought valiantly on behalf the U.S. and served our nation honorably with great skill and courage.  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 Continents 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."

Throughout the course of the Korean War, Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment suffered more casualties than did the vast majority of mainland states and according to Department of Defense records, 2,700 soldiers received the Purple Heart for wounds received while in battle, and the Regiment lost 740 Borinqueneers in Korea.  The Borinqueneers selflessly served and many gave their lives for our democracy and have earned this recognition from Congress. They have inspired new generations of Puerto Ricans who have continued to answer the call to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States.

To the Borinqueneers of the 65th Infantry Regiment, their loved ones, and to the Puerto Rican soldiers who have followed in their footsteps, I thank you for your proud service to this country.  Your sacrifice is just one more reason I am proud of my Puerto Rican heritage.

 

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