Sunday, December 10, 2017

PUERTO RICANS IN KOREA - December 9th 1950.


ONE UNITED States dependency little heard about from a publicity standpoint, is the largest and most vastly populated of all—Puerto Rico. But things started happening a couple of weeks ago that changed all that. First, Communist groups in the capital city of San Juan, led an uprising against the duly elected. Government. Then, to show they meant business in their hostility toward the U.S., this same group directed simpathiser in America to assassinate President Truman. The plot failed as did' their revolt. These were all headline items that brought the West Indian island into focus. But the Puerto Ricans did something else previous to this same hectic 'time that didn't receive much publicity. The 65th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army, made up largely of native Puerto Ricans, landed in Korea to join forces with other UN troops. This well-trained regiment is not new to the Army, however, and their unit history indicates that their presence in the snow covered hills of North Korea sounds another ominous note for Communist aggressors. Organized shortly after the annexation of Puerto Rico following our war with Spain in 1899, the 65th Infantry Regiment was first known as the Puerto Rico Battalion of Volunteers Infantry. Following several name changes and enlargements, including a battalion of mounted troops, the regiment finally became a part of the Regular Army by an Act of Congress on June 16, 1908, and was again renamed, the Puerto Rico Regiment of Infantry, USA.


The first official act after becoming a member of the regular establishment was an inspection by the 'then Eastern Department commander, Maj. Gen. Frederick D. Grant, U.S. Army, who afterward addressed the assembled troops. He stated, "This is one of the best regiments I have ever seen and there are few as good and none better under my command." Of this the 65th has remained proud and has endeavored to maintain the same standard of efficiency up to the present date. The regiment was brought up to full battle strength in May of 1917 and ordered' to the Panama Canal, where it remained during the first World War, protecting that vital installation. 

June 4, 1920, found the soldiers back home on their Caribbean island under their present name—65th Infantry Regiment. They remained at their home station during the interim of great wars arid it wasn't until the early part of 1943, that they again took up security positions in Panama. 

From Pearl Harbor until that time, they patrolled every march of their homeland in anticipation of an expected invasion. While in the Canal Zone, intensive jungle training was given to the troops when they could be spared from the posts. Although they never had occasion to become engaged in jungle fighting, they were nonetheless prepared. - Later that year the 65th left the Zone and was shuttled to Fort Eustis, Va. where the men took advanced Infantry training, and then sailed for North Africa. After land- ing at Port Aux Poules, more training followed, this time in amphibious tactics. Then on to France and Marseille. Their first commitment to action was in the'Maritime Alp region at Peira Cava. This short campaign resulted in 47 battle casualties. 




Then came patrol duty and security missions in the Kaiserlantern-Manheim sector of Germany. This was March, 1945. V Day found the fighting Puerto Ricans deep in the heart of Germany and in looking back over their route of advance they had won battle participation credits at Naples Foggia, Rome-Arno, Central Europe, and Rhineland campaigns. While alerted for further action in the Pacific War, the signing of the Japanese surrender caught up with them and they were returned home to San Juan in November; 1945. In the last five years the 65th Infantry has been anything but asleep. It has trained extensively, participating in war games and joining in frequent maneuvers. A Maltese cross predominates the coat of arms of the 65th. The significance of this ancient Christian symbol dates from early Puerto Rican history, when at the time of the conquest of the island by the Spanish in the 15th century the city of San Juan was named for the military order of St. John of Jerusalem. 

This order was later renamed the Knights of Malta, their dress being a black robe with a white Maltese Cross. . The regimental crest of a wreath of colors with a rampant lion, was taken from the coat of arms of Ponce de Leon, the island's first Spanish governor. .The UN forces in Korea will find the men and officers of the 65th a ready and willing ally. They carry with them a tradition and they aim to uphold it, Puerto Ricans are brawny fighters, and they appreciate their stake in preserving the freedom of a democratic world.