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US Department of Defense Recognizes Puerto Rican Military Service

The Department of Defense has spotlighted Puerto Rico’s participation in the U.S. Military with an article bringing out the details of the territory’s military service since World War I.

“I’m super-proud of my heritage,” the article quotes retired Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Ildelfonso “Pancho” Colon Jr. as saying. “Like any soldier from Texas who loves his Texas flag and loves his state, Puerto Ricans, we love our flag, we love our state — we call it a state. I’ve wanted to be a soldier all my life. It’s so motivational being around all of these veterans. We’re proud Americans. We love our country, but we love Puerto Rico, too.”

The men and women of Puerto Rico have served in U.S. wars from the Revolutionary War and the  Civil War on. Since becoming U.S. citizens in 1917, Puerto Ricans have served in disproportionate numbers relative to their population within the U.S.

Even under Spanish rule, Puerto Ricans fought alongside American colonists in the Revolutionary War.  The U.S. Department of Defense states that a southern troop — consisting primarily of Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics — captured the cities of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Pensacola, Florida; and St. Louis, Missouri, from the British.

The first U.S. shot of World War I was fired in Puerto Rico by Army Lt. Teofilo Marxuach. He was on duty at the famous El Morro Castle, at the entrance to San Juan Bay, when war was declared. An armed supply ship for German submarines attempted to make navigate out of the bay, and Marxuach opened fire from behind the walls of the fortress, forcing the ship to return to port.

In April, 2016, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the U.S. Army’s 65th Infantry Regiment, the Borinqueneers.  Upon passage of the legislation, Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) explained, “The Borinqueneers participated in some of the fiercest battles of Korean War and awarding such a high honor is an appropriate way to show our gratitude to these heroes for their bravery, their service and their sacrifices. They are part of a proud tradition of service in the face of adversity that includes the Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Point Marines, Navajo Code Talkers and the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team – all of whom have already received the Congressional Gold Medal.”

Pedro Pierluisi, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico from 2009 to 2017, also spoke movingly of the need to honor the Borinqueneers:

Between 1950 and 1953, the 65th Infantry 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. In the face of unique challenges, the men of the 65th Infantry Regiment served our nation with great skill and tremendous grace.

How many Puerto Ricans have served in the U.S. military since 1917?

  • WW I – 18,000
  • WW II – 65,000
  • Korean – 61,000
  • Vietnam – 48,000
  • Gulf – 10,000
  • Enduring & Iraqi Freedom – 25,000
  • National Guard in 2014 – 8,400+
  • Veterans in PR – 100,000+

Since the Korean War, 1,131 Puerto Ricans have died in military service.  The names of many of these heroes are inscribed on El Monumento de la Recordacion, the Monument of Remembrance, in San Juan.

Yet these patriotic citizens cannot vote for their Commander in Chief.

Puerto Rico is not a state, but a territory of the United States. Americans vote for the president as individuals, but it is the states, in the form of the Electoral College, which actually elect the president. Without statehood, Puerto Rico doesn’t get to participate. People who leave Puerto Rico and live in a state can immediately register to vote, and Puerto Rican voters are often very influential in presidential campaigns, particularly in Florida. The residents of Puerto Rico, however, cannot vote.

1 thought on “US Department of Defense Recognizes Puerto Rican Military Service”

  1. Stand-up for loyal and brave American Veterans–Patriots of True Grit! Hundreds of Thousands of American Veterans don’t have–EQUAL RIGHTS!

    THE TIME is now, after over 120 years of Federal discrimination, for CIVIC ACTION–to ensure fellow, but, 2d Class statutory US Citizens-AMERICAN VETERANS in the US Territory of Puerto Rico (since 1898; with more US Citizens than 22 States) have the right to VOTE for their US President; just representation in Congress; PARITY in Federal Laws, Benefits, and Funds; permanent US Citizenship…. Federal Consent of the Governed!

    SOLVE- The Federal Government should do its DUTY-provide FAIR TREATMENT-EQUAL RIGHTS for ALL “WE THE PEOPLE” (not some)! Take concurrent ACTION-Fix, with PR Government–
    “Economic-Jobs; Fiscal; Infrastructure; Humanitarian; Status-Equality-Crisis”
    • Federal-US SUPREME Court: Overturn/revoke discriminatory and racist Insular Cases (1901-1925+)
    • PASS HR 4901; Incorporate; grant STATEHOOD; admit fellow loyal US Citizens-US Veterans– to our “UNION of STATES” with own– STATE- PR Identity; Constitution; Flag; and Sovereignty; UNITED- under our US Constitution-noble US Flag-that represents ALL the PEOPLE-States and Territories.
    *Equality Alternative–do Referendum on NON-Territorial Constitutional defined Options, which only are:

    Research-Exposé (with Facts-Truth-Reason)
    **Equality for US Citizens-Veterans in US Territory of Puerto Rico (PR)!**
    “Patriots cry for Justice-a Call to Arms (Civic Action)-for Fairness-Equality!”
    SUM: Since, 1898 (for over 120 years)–fellow, but, 2d Class US Citizens-American Veterans (part of “We the People”), in the US Territory of PR (with more US Citizens than 22 States)– have made many valuable contributions to our USA! But, TODAY face FEDERAL- unfair Treatment; institutional discrimination–DON’T have all RIGHTS–Federal “consent of the governed” nor blood earned Benefits nor Parity in Federal Laws nor permanent statutory US Citizenship (even in a State)–that other US Citizens-American Veterans have, under our great US Constitution; noble US Flag that represents all “WE THE PEOPLE”!
    o Puerto Ricans face a complex CRISIS which major root COMPONENTS are–
    *Economic-Jobs; Fiscal-Debt; Infrastructure; Social-Humanitarian; Status-Equality*
    Where each PART affects the other; the Federal undemocratic Territorial (Colonial) Status affects everything–which ties Puerto Rican hands, as there is no Federal Parity, to compete on a level Playing Field…!
    • The Federal Government (US President; US Congress; US Federal-Supreme Court)- has done some good things, but, incongruently doesn’t FAIRLY treat fellow US Citizens-American Veterans, in the US Territory of PR, the same as those in the States, even while Puerto Ricans are part of “WE THE PEOPLE”; nor has the Federal Government done anything for 120+ years to fix-remedy an unjust Federal undemocratic situation–per the trite Territorial Clause-1787, and US Supreme Court Insular Cases-1901-1925+ when institutional Racism was in vogue…, but, is the Federal Governing Law today!
    • There is a big Exodus to the States that hurts PR’s Economy… as it taxes State-Local resources…
    • Loyal US Puerto Ricans sacrifice; make great contributions to our noble US, since 1513, when their Ancestors (1st Governor of PR) came to the now US–107 years before the Pilgrims; fought in the War of Independence (1776)… as today brave US Veterans-shed sweat, blood, and tears for our US Flag!
    Patriots of True Grit call for Civic ACTION to get the Federal Government to do Right– concurrently solve the root causes of the enormous Crisis; not make excuses, cover-up, generalize, speculate, distort, stereotype or misinform– that SUPPORTS discrimination or closet racism, since 1898!

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