The Borinqueneers: A Story That Had To Be Told


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Korean War Veteran Luis Rodriquez, who was part of the 65th Regiment, received a signed copy of the Congressional Gold Medal bill which honored him and his fellow ‘Borinqueneers’. He is joined by Frank Medina, who led the fight to have the unit’s role in U.S. history recognized.
Diane Alverio
In the fall of 2012, shortly after we launched, we learned of a story that, unfortunately, none of us had heard before.  It is the story of the soldiers of the segregated 65th military regiment based in Puerto Rico.  Although, according to historians, they fought valiantly in four wars, they were subjected to discrimination and other abuses by the military itself,  merely because they were from Puerto Rico.

It took a young Bridgeport, CT  Latino, Frank Medina, to take the lead and work tirelessly  to make sure this unit’s role in history became known and their story told.    It is a story of American heroes who, instead of cowering because of the abuse, bravely nicknamed themselves the ‘Borinqueneers’ – which derives from the island’s original Taino name, Borinquen – to demonstrate their pride in their heritage.
Medina, a West Point graduate who now lives in Orlando, dedicated many years to develop a grassroots  movement, the Congressional Gold Medal Alliance ( , to ensure the unit, which was the military’s last segregated unit,  received the Congressional Gold Medal.
Last year, Congress passed the bill and it was signed by President Obama.  This past week, Senator Richard Blumenthal, who was an ardent supporter of the CGM bill,  along with the Hispanic American Veterans of CT collaborated to present these 65th regiment veterans in Connecticut with a signed copy of the bill honoring them.
Also recognized at the East Hartford Event were Frank Croce,, Frank Medina, who traveled to CT for the ceremony, LTC Lesbia I. Nieves, and SFC (RET) Carmelo Figueroa.
Nieves, the highest ranking Latina in CT’s National Guard, and Figueroa were recognized for initiating the effort to  support  the Congressional Gold Medal Alliance in Connecticut.
Croce, a veteran from Waterbury, upon learning of the discrimination and what the ‘Borinqueneers ‘endured while fighting to protect the U.S., joined Medina and countless  others in working toward recognition for the 65th.
When we at learned of the ‘Borinqueneers” in the fall of 2012, we immediately made a commitment to help tell their story, reporting on them and sharing our  reports with our local, regional and national media partners. This recognition from Frank Medina, the CGM Alliance and the CT Hispanic Veterans will always be very special to us, as telling the stories of Latinos in the region is why we exist.
We sent  our photographer to the ceremony to capture the happy occasion, which included the aging, but still proud, ‘Borinqueneers”, their families and the award winners.  We are happy to share this photo gallery, as we pledge continue to tell the story of the ‘Borinqueneers’.
Photos: Tim Becker 
SFC Luis Centeno of East Hartford received a copy of the CGM bill that recognizes the 65th military unit, known as the ‘Borinqueneers’.
CPL Manuel Guliano was one of the Korean Veteran ‘Borinqueneers ‘ who received a signed copy of the CGM bill honoring him and his fellow soldiers.
92 year old Luis Rodriquez enjoyed the gathering;  his daughters say this recognition has been a blessing at this point in his life.
MAJ Frank Medina, National Director of the Congressional Gold Medal Alliance, traveled to Connecticut for the ceremony.
Yvonne Centeno, of East Hartford joined her father in celebrating the presentation of the CGM bill to CT ‘Borinqueneers’.
Proud daughter Judy and Beth Rodriquez were on hand for the ceremony where their Dad received a signed copy of the CGM bill.
Frank Croce, a veteran from Waterbury, who upon learning of what the 65th endured, joined the effort to have them recognized.
Diane Alverio, Publisher of, receives a certificate of appreciation on behalf of CTLatinoNews from Juan Cruz, President of the Hispanic Veterans of CT (left) and Major Frank Medina, National Director of the Congressional Gold Medal Alliance