(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Angel Fuentes, Nellie Pou, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Jack Conners to urge the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee to issue a postage stamp honoring the only Hispanic-segregated unit in United State military history – the Borinqueneers – has been advanced by the General Assembly.
The bill (AR-78) passed the Assembly Thursday by a vote of 75 to 0. As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the chamber also honored 89-year old Sabino DelValle, of Voorhees, for his service in Europe during World War II as a member of the Borinqueneers.
“Hispanic-Americans love this country, and have served in its military from America’s earliest days as a nation,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “The Borinqueneers serve to highlight this service and Hispanic-Americans’ continued commitment to our national security. We can help honor this dedication by issuing a commemorative stamp.”
The 65th Infantry Regiment, created in 1899 as the only Hispanic-segregated unit in United States military history, was mandated by Congress to be comprised primarily of Puerto Ricans. The regiment became better known as the Borinqueneers from the word Borinquen, the name by which the native Taino Indians called Puerto Rico.
“The Borinqueneers, through their service in World War I, World War II and, most notably, the Korean War, served with distinction, participating in nine major campaigns and earning respect and admiration of their fellow soldiers and military authorities,” said Pou (D-Passaic).
The Borinqueneers earned two United States Presidential Unit Citations, a Meritorious Unit Commendation and two Republic of Korea Unit Citations, as individual members earned 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, 421 Silver Stars, and 156 Bronze Stars.
The sponsors noted the Borinqueneers, as they made valuable contributions to the United States’ war efforts, suffered tremendous casualties, with more than 3,000 wounded including 600 killed.
“Although more than 20,000 Puerto Ricans served courageously as Borinqueneers since World War I, their contribution and sacrifices have gone largely unnoticed,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This legislation would help to remind us of their significant contributions to protecting our country and our freedoms.”
“The heroic and historic efforts of the 65th Infantry should serve as a reminder to us all that valor and patriotism are not limited by the color of a soldier’s skin,” said Conners. “The efforts of the Borinqueneers helped shape our country and this bill provides one small way of honoring them for the sacrifices they made behalf of all of us.”
“Honoring the Borinqueneers with a commemorative stamp would be a fitting tribute for these brave soldiers and would serve to educate the American public about their existence and service,” said Fuentes. “We must never forget their bravery and sacrifice.”