April 13th is National Borinqueneers Day, a day for honoring the service and sacrifice of the Puerto Rican soldiers who served in the U.S. Army’s 65th Infantry Regiment. The Borinqueneers, as they were known, were a Puerto Rican unit that fought with distinction until the 1960s, earning numerous awards and commendations for their bravery and valor.
The Borinqueneers in Korea
The Borinqueneers were a unique unit within the U.S. military during the Korean War. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, and Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. However, they are not allowed to vote in U.S. presidential elections, and they faced discrimination and prejudice even during their military service. Despite this, thousands of Puerto Rican soldiers enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and many of them served in the 65th Infantry Regiment.
The Borinqueneers faced many challenges during their service in Korea. They were sometimes given menial tasks and were not always given the same equipment or supplies as other units. Despite these obstacles, the Borinqueneers remained dedicated to their mission and fought bravely in some of the toughest battles of the Korean War.
One of the most significant battles in which the Borinqueneers fought was the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, which took place in November and December of 1950. The Borinqueneers were part of the 3rd Infantry Division, which was given the job of defending the reservoir against an overwhelming force of Chinese soldiers. The battle was one of the most brutal of the war, with freezing temperatures, heavy snow, and constant enemy attacks. Despite the odds against them, the Borinqueneers fought with incredible bravery and determination, and their actions helped to save many lives and prevent a much worse outcome.
The Borinqueneers received numerous awards and commendations for their service during the Korean War. These included the Presidential Unit Citation, which was awarded to the entire 65th Infantry Regiment for their actions during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, as well as individual awards such as the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. The Borinqueneers also had the distinction of being the only all-Hispanic unit to fight in the Korean War.
After the war
Despite their heroism and sacrifice, the Borinqueneers faced discrimination and prejudice upon their return to the United States after the war. Many of them struggled to find work or to adjust to civilian life, and they were often treated poorly by their fellow Americans. However, in recent years, there has been a renewed appreciation for the service and sacrifice of the Borinqueneers, and National Borinqueneers Day is a way to honor their legacy and remember their contributions to the United States and to the world.
Following the Korean War, American military ended the practice of segregated units. The 65th became part of the Puerto Rico National Guard. The Borinqueneers had grown out of the Puerto Rican Battalion formed in 1899, and the entire unit received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014. Most remembered for their part in the Korean War, this military unit transcends those few years.
In honor of the Borinqueneers, this April 13th you can contact your legislators and ask them to support equal rights for Puerto Rico through statehood.