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News | Oct. 18, 2019

65th Infantry ‘Borinqueneers’ honored at annual heritage event

By Kristin Molinaro DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

The Defense Federal Community honored a unique military unit during its annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Oct. 2. The observance commemorated the historical contributions of the U.S. Army’s 65th Infantry Regiment – a unit comprised mainly of Hispanic Soldiers and known as the Borinqueneers for its Puerto Rican roots.

The regiment’s history goes back to the late 19th century when an act of Congress led to the creation of the nation’s first Puerto Rican military unit. The Borinqueneers gained notoriety during the Korean War, where they participated in nine campaigns, saw significant casualties and became one of the most decorated units of the war. The regiment is credited with the last battalion-sized bayonet charge by a U.S. Army unit.

“They were celebrated for being brave proven warriors and selfless,” said Liliana Vasquez, the day’s keynote speaker. “While this unit was comprised primarily of Puerto Rican Soldiers, it also consisted of Mexican-Americans, African Americans and Soldiers of other various ethnicities, making it one of the most ethnically diverse miltiary units in U.S. history during the Korean War.”

Vasquez is an associate attorney with Simakovsky Law and Columbus council president for the League of the United Latin American Citizens. As an El Paso, Texas native, and first generation Mexican-American, Vasquez tied the Borinqueneers military legacy to battles being fought today on a much more local level.

“Each person is a warrior in their own life, fighting for various things,” she added. “So what is it that you are fighting for?  The general freedom of a country? Raising healthy children? For your family? Serving the community? To be respected as an equal individual? To have a voice? Whatever it may be, identify your cause and be mindful of your actions as they will influence others around you.”

Fitting with the program’s theme, “Feats of Valor,” the event featured a video on the contributions of the 65th Infantry Regiment. Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime associates Angela McCoy and Ilka Sierra delivered the National Anthem and invocation, followed by opening remarks given by DLA Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. John Palmer. Later in the program, Hispanic Employment Program committee volunteer Ramon Valencia, a former Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime associate, was recognized for his service to the federal Hispanic community over the years.

HEP executive champion Ben Roberts closed out the program, imparting that both the diversity of our roots and the commonality of our vision is what makes us all a part of “this American family.”

Guests were invited to enjoy cultural food samples provided by the HEP committee immediately following the event.