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AWARDING THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL TO THE 65TH INFANTRY REGIMENT
(House of Representatives - April 25, 2013)

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  AWARDING THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL TO THE 65TH INFANTRY REGIMENT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Puerto Rico (Mr. Pierluisi) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. PIERLUISI. Mr. Speaker, today Congressman Bill Posey of Florida 
and I will introduce bipartisan legislation to award a Congressional 
Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, a famed U.S. Army unit know 
as the Borinqueneers composed almost entirely of soldiers from the U.S. 
territory of Puerto Rico that overcame discrimination and earned praise 
and respect for its comeback performance in the Korean war.
  The Congressional Gold Medal is considered the most distinguished 
form of recognition that Congress, acting on behalf of a grateful 
Nation, can bestow upon an individual or group in recognition of 
outstanding and enduring achievement. As our legislation states:

       The highly decorated 65th Infantry Regiment is deserving of 
     this award because of its ``pioneering military service, 
     devotion to duty and many acts of valor in the face of 
     diversity.''

  Between 1950 and 1953, the regiment participated in some of the 
fiercest battles of the Korean war; and its toughness, courage, and 
loyalty earned the admiration of those who had previously harbored 
reservations about Puerto Rican soldiers based on stereotypes.
  One individual whose misconceptions were shattered was William 
Harris, who served as the regiment's commander during the early stages 
of the law. Harris recounts that he was reluctant to take command of 
the unit because, like many U.S. military leaders, he assumed that 
Puerto Rican soldiers were not as capable as other troops. Following 
the war, Harris recalled that his skeptical attitude did not survive 
first contact with the enemy and that, in fact, his experience 
ultimately led him to regard the men of the 65th as the best soldiers 
he had ever seen.
  Another individual who came to hold the 65th in high esteem was 
General Douglas MacArthur. In March 1951, after months of heavy 
engagements with the enemy in which the 65th played a critical role, 
General MacArthur wrote the following:

       The Puerto Ricans forming the ranks on the gallant 65th 
     Infantry on the battlefields of Korea by valor, determination 
     and a resolute will to victory give daily testament to their 
     invincible loyalty to the United States. They are writing a 
     brilliant record of achievement in battle, and I'm proud, 
     indeed, to have them in this command. I wish that we might 
     have many more like them.

  By the time fighting came to a close in Korea in July 1953, soldiers 
in the 65th had earned 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, about 250 
Silver Stars, over 600 Bronze Stars, and nearly 3,000 Purple Hearts. As 
a collective, the regiment won numerous awards, including two 
Presidential Unit Citations, the Nation's highest unit-level 
recognition for extraordinary heroism. The unit's disproportionately 
high casualty rate underscored the fact that it had been serving on the 
front lines, face to face with the enemy at the very tip of the spear.
  In a 2010 obituary that appeared in The New York Times for 87-year-
old Modesto Cartagena, one of the most decorated soldiers from the 
regiment, it was observed that in Korea:

       Puerto Rican soldiers surmounted not only the Communist 
     enemy, but also prejudicial attitudes.

  This same point was made with particular eloquence in 2000 by 
Secretary Louis Caldera during a ceremony honoring the regiment when he 
said that the soldiers of the 65th were fighting to protect the people 
of South Korea, even as they struggled against the injustice

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in the ranks of the military that they loved and served so well.
  Mr. Speaker, in the face of unique challenges, the men of the 65th 
regiment served our Nation with great skill and tremendous grace. Their 
contributions to our country have been recognized in many forms. 
Streets and parks bear their name. Monuments and plaques memorialize 
their accomplishments. And cities and States have approved resolutions 
in their honor. I believe it is time that Congress pay tribute to the 
65th, and so I ask my colleagues to join me in the effort to award the 
regiment with the Congressional Gold Medal.

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