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Toomey: Borinqueneers Earned Congressional Gold Medal

June 10, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) issued the following statement after President Obama signed legislation into law, awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as "the Borinqueneers." The Borinqueneers were a segregated military unit of soldiers mostly from Puerto Rico which fought in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Senator Toomey cosponsored the legislation signed by the President.

"The Borinqueneers were a valiant force in three major wars and I am pleased Congress and the President have acknowledged and honored their contributions," said Sen. Toomey. "The unit has a proud legacy of battling America's enemies abroad while at home enduring segregation, which unfortunately remained a part of American society. All Americans should be proud of this magnificent unit."

Although President Truman had issued an executive order in 1948 abolishing racial segregation in the armed forces, the 65th Infantry Regiment served as a segregated unit for most of the Korean War. The regiment participated in some of the fiercest battles of the war, including the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

By the end of the Korean War in 1953, members of the 65th Infantry Regiment had earned 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, approximately 250 Silver Stars, more than 600 Bronze Stars, and nearly 3,000 Purple Hearts. The regiment also earned unit awards-- including two Presidential Unit Citations, the nation's highest unit-level recognition, for extraordinary heroism.

The Borinqueneers join such groups as the Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Point Marines, Navajo Code Talkers, and the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team in being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.