HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania adjutant general Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig today honored Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment during an event organized by the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) at the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial.
Puerto Rico's 65th infantry, nicknamed "the Borinqueneers," was the U.S. Army's only fully segregated Latino-Hispanic unit that fought in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. The name "Borinqueneers" is derived from the word Boricua from the native Taínos meaning, "the great land of the valiant and noble Lord."
"These brave soldiers have demonstrated valor, devotion to duty and an unwavering commitment to protecting our country," Gov. Tom Corbett wrote in a letter of commendation to the veterans of the 65th Infantry. "It is my hope that the unit's historical legacy and example of service will continue to inspire others throughout the commonwealth for years to come."
The Borinqueneers are highly decorated for their bravery during the Korean War. The soldiers of the 65th Infantry Regiment earned 12 Distinguished Service Crosses, 265 Silver Stars, 606 Bronze Stars for valor, and 2,771 Purple Hearts. The regiment also earned two Presidential Unit Citations, the nation's highest unit-level recognition, for extraordinary heroism.
"The Borinqueneers fought fiercely in Korea for nearly three years displaying astonishing heroism and relentless bravery," said Craig. "It is fitting that we take the time to acknowledge and thank them for their service and ensure that all Americans come to know the story of these amazing troops."
Upon returning from Korea, the 65th was transferred to the Puerto Rico Army National Guard. While the units are no longer segregated, their ranks remain predominantly Latino-Hispanic. During the Global War on Terror, units of the 65th have deployed to the Horn of Africa and Guantanamo Bay.
"Honor et Fidelitas, the motto of the Borinqueneers, exemplifies their commitment to exceptionalism," said María Montero, Executive Director of GACLA. "They overcame the prejudices of their time and defeated not only the military enemy, but inequality. I have spoken with, embraced, and thanked personally these brave soldiers for their commitment to protecting liberty and freedom."
"I thank the members of the Latin American Legion Post 840 and the Borinqueneers' Congressional Gold Medal National Alliance for their service to our country and valiantly crusading for Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry, the Borinqueneers," said Montero.
More information on the unit's history is available at the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance website at: http://www.borinqueneers.org.
Media contact: Staff Sgt. Matt Jones, 717-861-8352, 717-943-4328
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs