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The 65th Infantry Regiment, Pride of Puerto Rico

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 1999 – The predominantly Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment was honored in a 1992 Army National Guard heritage painting for its record of valor during the Korean War.

The scene depicts the regimental bayonet charge against a Chinese division near Seoul, South Korea, on Feb. 2, 1951. The 65th had been ordered to seize two hills and climaxed a three-day assault by fixing bayonets and launching straight into the Chinese 149th Division. The enemy soldiers fled.

The 65th was organized in 1899, a year after the United States seized Puerto Rico from Spain. At the time, the Army considered the regiment to be "colonial troops" for the defense of the island, according to the Army Center for Military History in Washington. Its nickname, "The Borinqueneers," honors a native Puerto Rican Indian tribe.

The regiment served in Panama and France during World War II, but its record was undistinguished because, some sources say, Army commanders lacked confidence in the Puerto Ricans' willingness to fight. It took the Korean War to prove those doubts were misplaced.

After arriving at Pusan, South Korea, on Sept. 20, 1950, the outfit quickly won respect on the battlefield. Over the next three years, it participated in nine major campaigns and earning a Presidential Unit Citation, a Meritorious Unit Commendation and two Republic of Korea Unit Citations. Individual members earned four Distinguished Service Crosses and 124 Silver Stars.

The ground war in Korea was fought on some of the most mountainous terrain in the world and many of the bitterest battles occurred during the winter, when extreme cold, snow and ice dogged troops. The 65th's regimental motto, "Honor and Fidelity," exemplifies its gallant service in that difficult war.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThis 1992 painting depicts the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment's bayonet charge against a Chinese division during the Korean War. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Center for Military History.   
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