Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The 65th Infantry Regiment
The 65th Infantry Regiment nicknamed "The Borinqueneers"; was an all volunteer Puerto Rican Regiment of the U.S. Army whose motto was Honor and Fidelity and which participated in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
Puerto Ricans have participated in every major American military conflict, from the American Revolution when volunteers from Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico fought the British in Massachusetts in 1775 under the command of Captain General Torre, to the present day conflict in Iraq. However, it was during the Korean War that Puerto Ricans suffered the most casualties as members of an all Hispanic volunteer unit. One of the problems that they faced was the difference in languages, the common foot soldier spoke only Spanish, while the commanding officers were mostly English speaking Americans. Another problem that they faced was the climate factor. However, despite the hardships suffered by the members of the 65th Infantry, Puerto Ricans were to serve with pride and honor.
World War I
On July 1, 1898, "The Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry, United States Army" was created and approved by the U.S. Congress on May 27, 1908. They trained in Camp Las Casas in Santurce, a section of San Juan. On May 3, 1917, the Regiment recruited 1,969 men, considered at that time as war strength. On May 14, 1917, the Regiment was sent to Panama in defense of the Panama Canal Zone. The Regiment returned to Puerto Rico on March 1919 and was renamed "The 65th Infantry" by the Reorganization Act of June 4, 1920.
World War II
In 1942, at the outbreak of World War II, the 65th Infantry underwent an extensive training program and in 1943, it was sent to Panama to protect the Pacific and the Atlantic sides of the Isthmus. On 1944, the Regiment was sent to North Africa, arriving at Casablanca where they underwent further training. By April 29, 1944, the Regiment had landed in Italy and moved on to Corsica. On September 22, 1944, the 65th Infantry landed in France and was committed to action on the Maritime Alps at Peira Cava. They suffered a total of forty seven battle casualties. The first Puerto Rican to be killed in action from the 65th Infantry was Sgt. Angel Martinez , from the town of Sabana Grande. On April 20, the 65th overran a subcamp of the Flossenburg Concentration Camp. On March 18, 1945, the Regiment was sent to the District of Manheim, Germany and assigned to Military Government activities, anti-sabotage and security missions. In all, the 65th Infantry participated in the battles of Naples-Fogis, Rome-Arno, Central Europe and of the Rhineland. On October 27, 1945 the Regiment sailed from France arriving at Puerto Rico on November 9, 1945. The Regiment suffered a total of 260 casualties killed in action.
On August 26, 1950, the 65th Infantry departed from Puerto Rico and arrived in Pusan, Korea on September 23, 1950. It was during the long sea voyage that the men nicknamed the 65th Infantry "Borinqueneers". The name is a combination of the words "Borinquen" (which was what the Tainos called the island before the arrival if the Spaniards) and "Buccaneers". The men of the 65th were the first infantrymen to meet the enemy on the battle fields of Korea. Among the hardships suffered by the Puerto Ricans was the lack of warm clothing during the cold and harsh winters. The enemy made many attempts to encircle the Regiment, but each time they failed because of the many casualties inflicted by the 65th. The 65th was part of a task force which enabled the U.S. Marines to withdraw from the Hauack-on Reservior on December 1950. When the Marines were encircled by the Chinese Communist troops close to the Manchurian border, the 65th rushed to their defense. As a consequence, the Marines were able to return safely to their ships.
Among the battles and operations in which the 65th participated was the Operation "Killer" of January 1951, becoming the first Regiment to cross the Han River. On April 1951, the Regiment participated in the Uijonber Corridor drives and on June 1951, the 65th was the third Regiment to cross the Han Ton River. The 65th was the Regiment which took and held Cherwon and they were also instrumental in breaking the "Iron Triangle" of Hill 717 on July 1951. On November 1951, the Regiment fought off an attack by two Regimental size enemy units, with success.
On July 3, 1952, the Regiment defended the MLR for 47 days and saw action at Cognac, King and Queen with successful attacks on Chinese positions. On October the Regiment also saw action in the Cherwon Sector and on Iron Horse, Hill 391, whose lower part was called "Jackson Heights" (see: Col. Carlos Betances Ramirez).
On June 1953, the 2nd Battalion conducted a series of successful raids on Hill 412 and on November the Regiment successfully counter attacked enemy units in the Numsong Valley and held their positions until the truce signing between all parts involved.
The 65th Infantry was awarded battle participation credits for the following nine campaigns: 1. UN Defense-1950, 2. UN Offense-1950, 3. CCF Intervenntion-1950, 4. First UN Counterattack Offensive-1951, 5. UN and CCF Spring Offensive-1951, 6. UN Summer-Fall Offensive-1951, 7. 2nd Korean Winter 1951-52, 8. Korean Summer-Fall-1952 and 9. 3rd Korean Winter-1952-53.
The 65th Infantry returned to Puerto Rico and was inactivated in 1956. However, Brig. General Juan Cordero, Puerto Rico's Adjutant General, persuaded the Department of the Army to transfer the 65th Infantry from the regular Army to the Puerto Rican National Guard. This was the only unit ever transferred from active component Army to the Army Guard.
The 65th Infantry was recognized as a World War II liberating unit by the U.S. Army's Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1994. Puerto Rico honored the unit by naming one of its principal avenues "La 65 Infanteria" in San Juan.
- Col. Carlos Betances Ramriez, the first Puerto Rican to command a Battalion in Korea.
- Staff Sgt. Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Puerto Rican
- Brigadier General Antonio Rodriguez Balinas
- Brigadier General Luis R. Esteves
- Master Sgt. Pedro Rodriguez, awarded two Silver Star Medals in seven days.
- borinqueneers.com - personal site honoring the soldiers of the regiment.