Text: H.R.1726 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 113-120 (06/10/2014)




[113th Congress Public Law 120]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



[[Page 128 STAT. 1187]]

Public Law 113-120
113th Congress

                                 An Act


 
To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, known 
      as the Borinqueneers. <<NOTE: June 10, 2014 -  [H.R. 1726]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: 31 USC 5111 
note.>> 
SECTION 1. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds the following:
            (1) In 1898, the United States acquired Puerto Rico in the 
        Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War and, by the 
        following year, Congress had authorized raising a unit of 
        volunteer soldiers in the newly acquired territory.
            (2) In May 1917, two months after legislation granting 
        United States citizenship to individuals born in Puerto Rico was 
        signed into law, and one month after the United States entered 
        World War I, the unit was transferred to the Panama Canal Zone 
        in part because United States Army policy at the time restricted 
        most segregated units to noncombat roles, even though the 
        regiment could have contributed to the fighting effort.
            (3) In June 1920, the unit was re-designated as the ``65th 
        Infantry Regiment, United States Army'', and served as the 
        United States military's last segregated unit composed primarily 
        of Hispanic soldiers.
            (4) In January 1943, 13 months after the attack on Pearl 
        Harbor that marked the entry of the United States into World War 
        II, the Regiment again deployed to the Panama Canal Zone before 
        deploying overseas in the spring of 1944.
            (5) Despite relatively limited combat service in World War 
        II, the Regiment suffered casualties in the course of defending 
        against enemy attacks, with individual soldiers earning one 
        Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars 
        and 90 Purple Hearts. The Regiment received campaign 
        participation credit for Rome-Arno, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, 
        and Central Europe.
            (6) Although an executive order issued by President Harry S. 
        Truman in July 1948 declared it to be United States policy to 
        ensure equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in 
        the armed services without respect to race or color, 
        implementation of this policy had yet to be fully realized when 
        armed conflict broke out on the Korean Peninsula in June 1950, 
        and both African-American soldiers and Puerto Rican soldiers 
        served in segregated units.
            (7) Brigadier General William W. Harris, who served as the 
        Regiment's commander during the early stages of the

[[Page 128 STAT. 1188]]

        Korean War, later recalled that he had initially been reluctant 
        to take the position because of ``prejudice'' within the 
        military and ``the feeling of the officers and even the brass of 
        the Pentagon * * * that the Puerto Rican wouldn't make a good 
        combat soldier * * * I know my contemporaries felt that way and, 
        in all honesty, I must admit that at the time I had the same 
        feeling * * * that the Puerto Rican was a rum and Coca-Cola 
        soldier.''.
            (8) One of the first opportunities the Regiment had to prove 
        its combat worthiness arose on the eve of the Korean War during 
        Operation PORTREX, one of the largest military exercises that 
        had been conducted up until that point, where the Regiment 
        distinguished itself by repelling an offensive consisting of 
        over 32,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 
        United States Marine Corps, supported by the Navy and Air Force, 
        thereby demonstrating that the Regiment could hold its own 
        against some of the best-trained forces in the United States 
        military.
            (9) In August 1950, with the United States Army's situation 
        in Korea deteriorating, the Department of the Army's 
        headquarters decided to bolster the 3rd Infantry Division and, 
        owing in part to the 65th Infantry Regiment's outstanding 
        performance during Operation PORTREX, it was among the units 
        selected for the combat assignment. The decision to send the 
        Regiment to Korea and attach it to the 3rd Infantry Division was 
        a landmark change in the United States military's racial and 
        ethnic policy.
            (10) As the Regiment sailed to Asia in September 1950, 
        members of the unit informally decided to call themselves the 
        ``Borinqueneers'', a term derived from the Taino word for Puerto 
        Rico meaning ``land of the brave lord''.
            (11) The story of the 65th Infantry Regiment during the 
        Korean War has been aptly described as ``one of pride, courage, 
        heartbreak, and redemption''.
            (12) Fighting as a segregated unit from 1950 to 1952, the 
        Regiment participated in some of the fiercest battles of the 
        war, and its toughness, courage and loyalty earned the 
        admiration of many who had previously harbored reservations 
        about Puerto Rican soldiers based on lack of previous fighting 
        experience and negative stereotypes, including Brigadier General 
        Harris, whose experience eventually led him to regard the 
        Regiment as ``the best damn soldiers that I had ever seen''.
            (13) After disembarking at Pusan, South Korea in September 
        1950, the Regiment blocked the escape routes of retreating North 
        Korean units and overcame pockets of resistance. The most 
        significant battle took place near Yongam-ni in October when the 
        Regiment routed a force of 400 enemy troops. By the end of the 
        month, the Regiment had taken 921 prisoners while killing or 
        wounding more than 600 enemy soldiers. Its success led General 
        Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations 
        Command in Korea, to observe that the Regiment was ``showing 
        magnificent ability and courage in field operations''.
            (14) The Regiment landed on the eastern coast of North Korea 
        in early November 1950. In December 1950, following China's 
        intervention in the war, the Regiment engaged in a series of 
        fierce battles to cover the rear guard of the 1st Marine

[[Page 128 STAT. 1189]]

        Division during the fighting retreat from the Chosin Reservoir 
        to the enclave at Hungnam, North Korea, one of the greatest 
        withdrawals in modern military history.
            (15) When General MacArthur ordered the evacuation of 
        Hungnam in mid-December, the Regiment was instrumental in 
        securing the port, and was among the last units--if not the last 
        unit--to depart the beachhead on Christmas Eve, suffering 
        significant casualties in the process. Under the Regiment's 
        protection, 105,000 troops and 100,000 refugees were evacuated, 
        along with 350,000 tons of supplies and 17,500 military 
        vehicles.
            (16) The brutal winter conditions during the campaign 
        presented significant hardships for soldiers in the Regiment, 
        who lacked appropriate gear to fight in sub-zero temperatures.
            (17) Between January and March 1951, the Regiment 
        participated in numerous operations to recover and retain South 
        Korean territory lost to the enemy, assaulting heavily fortified 
        enemy positions and conducting the last recorded battalion-sized 
        bayonet assault in United States Army history.
            (18) On January 31, 1951, the commander of Eighth Army, 
        Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway, wrote to the Regiment's 
        commander: ``What I saw and heard of your regiment reflects 
        great credit on you, your regiment, and the people of Puerto 
        Rico, who can be proud of their valiant sons. I am confident 
        that their battle records and training levels will win them high 
        honors * * *. Their conduct in battle has served only to 
        increase the high regard in which I hold these fine troops.''.
            (19) On February 3, 1951, General MacArthur wrote: ``The 
        Puerto Ricans forming the ranks of 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 and the fervor of their 
        devotion to those immutable standards of human relations to 
        which the Americans and Puerto Ricans are in common dedicated. 
        They are writing a brilliant record of achievement in battle and 
        I am proud indeed to have them in this command. I wish that we 
        might have many more like them.''.
            (20) The Regiment played a central role in the United States 
        military's counteroffensive responding to a major push by the 
        Chinese Communist Forces (CFF) in 1951, winning praise for its 
        superb performance in multiple battles, including Operations 
        KILLER and RIPPER, as well as for its actions on February 14th, 
        when the Regiment inflicted nearly 1,000 enemy casualties at a 
        cost of only one killed and six wounded, almost singlehandedly 
        annihilating a North Korean infantry regiment that had 
        infiltrated the defenses of the 3rd Infantry Division's 
        headquarters.
            (21) By 1952, senior United States commanders ordered that 
        replacement soldiers from Puerto Rico would no longer be limited 
        to service in the Regiment, but could be made available to fill 
        personnel shortages in non-segregated units both inside and 
        outside the 3rd Infantry Division. This was a major milestone in 
        United States Army policy that, paradoxically, harmed the 
        Regiment by depriving it of some of Puerto Rico's most able 
        soldiers.

[[Page 128 STAT. 1190]]

            (22) Beyond the many hardships endured by most American 
        soldiers in Korea, the Regiment faced unique challenges arising 
        from discrimination and prejudice.
            (23) In 1953, the now fully integrated Regiment earned 
        admiration for its relentless defense of Outpost Harry, during 
        which it confronted multiple company-size probes, full-scale 
        regimental attacks, and heavy artillery and mortar fire from 
        Chinese forces, earning one Distinguished Service Cross, 14 
        Silver Stars, 23 Bronze Stars, and 67 Purple Hearts, in 
        operations that Major General Eugene W. Ridings described as 
        ``highly successful in that the enemy was denied the use of one 
        of his best routes of approach into the friendly position''. The 
        recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross was then-First 
        Lieutenant Richard E. Cavazos, a Mexican-American, who went on 
        to become the first Latino to rise to the rank of four-star 
        general in the United States Army.
            (24) For its extraordinary service during the Korean War, 
        the Regiment received two Presidential Unit Citations (Army and 
        Navy), two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations, a 
        Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), a Navy Unit Commendation, 
        the Bravery Gold Medal of Greece, and campaign participation 
        credits for United Nations Offensive, CCF Intervention, First 
        United Nations Counteroffensive, CCF Spring Offensive, United 
        Nations Summer-Fall Offensive, Second Korean Winter, Korea 
        Summer-Fall 1952, Third Korean Winter, and Korea Summer 1953.
            (25) In Korea, soldiers in the Regiment earned a total of 
        nine Distinguished Service Crosses, approximately 250 Silver 
        Stars, over 600 Bronze Stars, more than 2,700 Purple Hearts. On 
        March 18, 2014, Master Sergeant Juan E. Negron Martinez received 
        the Medal of Honor, the Nation's highest award for military 
        valor, for actions taken on April 28, 1951 near Kalma-Eri, 
        Korea.
            (26) In all, some 61,000 Puerto Ricans served in the United 
        States Army during the Korean War, the bulk of them with the 
        65th Infantry Regiment--and over the course of the war, Puerto 
        Rican soldiers suffered a disproportionately high casualty rate, 
        with over 740 killed and over 2,300 wounded.
            (27) In April 1956, as part of the reduction in forces 
        following the Korean War, the 65th Infantry Regiment was 
        deactivated from the regular Army and, in February 1959, became 
        the only regular Army unit to have ever been transferred to the 
        National Guard, when its 1st battalion and its regimental number 
        were assigned to the Puerto Rico National Guard, where it has 
        remained ever since.
            (28) In 1982, the United States Army Center of Military 
        History officially authorized granting the 65th Infantry 
        Regiment the special designation of ``Borinqueneers''.
            (29) In the years since the Korean War, the achievements of 
        the Regiment have been recognized in various ways, including--
                    (A) the naming of streets in honor of the Regiment 
                in San Juan, Puerto Rico and The Bronx, New York;
                    (B) the erecting of monuments and plaques to honor 
                the Regiment at Arlington National Cemetery in 
                Arlington, Virginia; the San Juan National Historic Site 
                in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Fort Logan National Cemetery 
                in Denver,

[[Page 128 STAT. 1191]]

                Colorado; and at sites in Boston, Massachusetts; 
                Worcester, Massachusetts; Buffalo, New York; and Ocala, 
                Florida;
                    (C) the renaming of a park in Buenaventura Lake, 
                Florida as the ``65th Infantry Veterans Park'';
                    (D) the dedication of land for a park and monument 
                to honor the Regiment in New Britain, Connecticut;
                    (E) the adoption or introduction of resolutions or 
                proclamations honoring the Regiment by many state and 
                municipal governments, including in the states and 
                territories of California, Connecticut, Florida, 
                Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, 
                New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, 
                Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and Texas; and
                    (F) the issuance by the United States Postal Service 
                of a Korean War commemorative stamp depicting soldiers 
                from the Regiment.
            (30) In a speech delivered on September 20, 2000, at a 
        ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery in honor of the 
        Regiment, Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera said: ``Even as 
        the 65th struggled against all deadly enemies in the field, they 
        were fighting a rearguard action against a more insidious 
        adversary--the cumulative effects of ill-conceived military 
        policies, leadership shortcomings, and especially racial and 
        organizational prejudices, all exacerbated by America's 
        unpreparedness for war and the growing pains of an Army forced 
        by law and circumstance to carry out racial integration. 
        Together these factors would take their inevitable toll on the 
        65th, leaving scars that have yet to heal for so many of the 
        Regiment's proud and courageous soldiers.''.
            (31) Secretary Caldera further stated: ``To the veterans of 
        the 65th Infantry Regiment who, in that far off land fifty years 
        ago, fought with rare courage even as you endured misfortune and 
        injustice, thank you for doing your duty. There can be no 
        greater praise than that for any soldier of the United States 
        Army.''.
            (32) Secretary Caldera also noted that ``[t]he men of the 
        65th who served in Korea are a significant part of a proud 
        tradition of service'' that includes the Japanese American 442nd 
        Regimental Combat Team, the African American Tuskegee Airmen, 
        and ``many other unsung minority units throughout the history of 
        our armed forces whose stories have never been fully told''.
            (33) The service of the men of the 65th Infantry Regiment is 
        emblematic of the contributions to the armed forces that have 
        been made by hundreds of thousands of brave and patriotic United 
        States citizens from Puerto Rico over generations, from World 
        War I to the most recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 
        in other overseas contingency operations.
SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL.

    (a) Award Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of Representatives 
and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate 
arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold 
medal of appropriate design in honor of the 65th Infantry Regiment, 
known as the Borinqueneers, in recognition of its pioneering military 
service, devotion to duty, and many acts of valor in the face of 
adversity.

[[Page 128 STAT. 1192]]

    (b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award referred to 
in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (hereinafter in this 
Act referred to as the ``Secretary'') shall strike the gold medal with 
suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the 
Secretary.
    (c) Smithsonian Institution.--
            (1) In general.--Following the award of the gold medal in 
        honor of the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers, 
        the gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, 
        where it shall be available for display as appropriate and made 
        available for research.
            (2) Sense of the congress.--It is the sense of the Congress 
        that the Smithsonian Institution shall make the gold medal 
        received under this Act available for display elsewhere, 
        particularly at other appropriate locations associated with the 
        65th Infantry Regiment, including locations in Puerto Rico.
SEC. 3. DUPLICATE MEDALS.

    Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary 
may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under 
section 2, at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the medals, 
including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead 
expenses.
SEC. 4. NATIONAL MEDALS.

    Medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals for purposes 
of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.

    Approved June 10, 2014.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 1726:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 160 (2014):
            May 19, considered and passed House.
            May 22, considered and passed Senate.
DAILY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS (2014):
            June 10, Presidential remarks.

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