In 2014, the Borinqueneers, a Puerto Rican regiment of the U.S. Army, was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal. Visit their website for more information on the organization that worked toward this outcome.
The medal was created in 2016. The obverse of the medal was designed by Joel Iskowitz, a Master Designer at the United States Mint. His design won a gold medal at the 2017 International Design Awards.
The design features a U.S. Army staff sergeant wearing a close-trimmed mustache. The 65h Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers, won the right to wear these mustaches. Only the Borinqueneers were allowed to sport this kind of facial hair.
The uniform worn by the staff sergeant includes features of those worn in World War II and the Korean War, two of the conflicts in which the Borinqueneers showed their bravery. The regiment fought in all the major U.S. conflicts until it was disbanded in the mid-20th century.
On the left is a scene remembering the fact that the Borinqueneers conducted the last full-scale bayonet attack of the U.S. Army, during the Korean conflict.
The Congressional Gold Medal was presented to the regiment as a whole. The living members of the regiment, and the families of the soldiers who were no longer living, were given bronze copies of the medal in a special ceremony in Washington D.C. The Gold medal traveled the nation in a Smithsonian exhibit.
The Borinqueneers were the only Hispanic segregated regiment, and the last of the segregated regiments to be honored with a Congressional Gold Medal. Of course, segregation is no longer legal in the U.S. armed forces, but the military men and women from Puerto Rico still cannot vote for their Commander in Chief.
CoinWeek’s podcast below includes an interview with Iskowitz.
We American Veterans, and Families thank former PR Secretary of Justice Jose Fuentes for getting the Funds to purchase (from the US Mint) over 1,000 bronze replicas of the Borinqueneers’ Congressional Gold Medal–highest honor our US Congress can bestow! My Father Celio Freytes-Menendez (WW-II & Korea) and two Uncles (Erasto & Anibal) served and fought with the brave US 65th Infantry Regiment–Warriors of Good! HOOAH!!!