Press Release-Sept.

5, 2013
Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance begins fall campaign for Co-Sponsors in U.S. Congress!
Similar in nature to the famed Tuskegee Airmen and other segregated U.S. military units, the 65th Infantry Regiment Borinqueneers were the largest and longest-standing segregated Latino unit in U.S. history. Like the Tuskegee Airmen, Navajo Code Talkers, Nisei Soldiers, and Montford Point Marines who’ve already been recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal, the Borinqueneers overwhelmingly distinguished themselves in battle all the while enduring the additional hardships of segregation and discrimination. Hailing from Puerto Rico, the US Army unit was active from 1899-1959. Emblematic of all US military veterans, including the hundreds of thousands of Latino-American veterans, the Borinqueneers served and sacrificed in the cause of freedom with great pride The youngest of these remaining Latino-American heroes are in their 80’s and 90’s, having served in the Korean War, 60 years ago or more. A nationwide, non-partisan, all-volunteer group, the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance has been advocating the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to these elderly veterans since late last year. Made up of veterans, Latino-Americans, and like-minded patriots, the organization has worked closely with members of the U.S. Congress to facilitate the successful introduction and subsequent support of special bipartisan legislation, which requires Co-Sponsorship by two-thirds of each chamber for passage. The U.S. House of Representatives bill, introduced this spring by Representatives Pedro Pierluisi (DPR) and Bill Posey (R-FL), H.R. 1726, currently has 84 of the required 290 Co-Sponsors. The U.S. Senate bill, S. 1174, introduced in June by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), has 15 of the necessary 67 Co-Sponsors. The alliance’s national chair, Frank Medina, a 2002 West Point graduate and Iraqi war combat veteran, is coordinating intense efforts this fall to encourage individuals and organizations to reach out to additional Members of Congress to secure their Co-Sponsorship of the bills. Here is an excerpt from the bills to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers (US House of Representatives H.R.1726 and US Senate S.1174):


“(22) Beyond the many hardships endured by most American soldiers in Korea, the Regiment faced unique challenges due to discrimination and prejudice, including-(A) the humiliation of being ordered to shave their moustaches `until such a time as they gave proof of their manhood'; (B) being forced to use separate showering facilities from their non-Hispanic `Continental' officers; (C) being ordered not to speak Spanish under penalty of court-martial; (D) flawed personnel-rotation policies based on ethnic and organizational prejudices; and (E) a catastrophic shortage of trained noncommissioned officers.” During the Korean War, 2,771 Borinqueneers earned Purple Hearts. 750 of them were killed in action, and more than 100 are still missing in action. Among the national organizations supporting this important initiative are Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), American GI Forum (AGIF), Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), and National Puerto Rican Coalition (NPRC).


Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance CONTACTS: Larry Bystran, Promotions Volunteer Frank Medina, National Chair


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