The Borinqueneers

The Borinqueneers

Written on 06/13/2022

The 65th Infantry originated as a Puerto Rican outfit in the form of the Battalion of Porto Rican Volunteers (May 20, 1899) in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War of 1898. They were regarded as colonial troops, part of the first “American Colonial Army.” In 1908, and by then a regiment, the unit officially became part of the U.S. Army. It came to be known as the Porto Rican Regiment. During WWI the regiment was sent to the Canal Zone in Panama- far from the European battlefields. In 1920, the unit’s name changed from the Porto Rican Regiment to the 65th Infantry Regiment, United States Army.   

The majority of the 61,000 Puerto Ricans who fought in the Korean War came from the island. Many served with the 65th. The vast majority were volunteers who several times completed the island’s monthly recruiting quota. The chance that they may be sent to the 65th motivated thousands of Puerto Ricans to volunteer for service both in the mainland and on the island. Throughout the conflict 3,540, Puerto Ricans became casualties of war, of whom 747 were killed in action.

In 1954, the 65th Infantry returned to Puerto Rico and was reconstituted as an all-Puerto Rican formation. The island had its regiment back, but not for long. It was deactivated in 1956.  Colonel César Cordero, who had led the 65th during the tragic battle for Outpost Kelly, led a campaign that culminated with the reactivation and transfer of the 65th from the Army to the Puerto Rico National Guard in 1959. Unlike its participation during the war, this event received scant publicity and soon the Borinqueneers and their epic ordeal faded into a distant and distorted memory–the forgotten heroes of a forgotten war.

"The Borinqueneers," have lived by their motto "Honor et Fidelitas" — Latin for "Honor and Fidelity" — both on and off the battlefield for more than 100 years.

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