HISTORY OF THE MILITARY IN PUERTO RICO
Alert to the importance of military preparedness, from the earliest days of the colony the Spaniards organized and trained the Puerto Ricans for defense. At first the militia existed only in small groups ; later a somewhat permanent regiment was formed, called the "Regmiento de Fijos", Which distinguished itself several times during attacks upon the island. In 1818 the Spanish Government, apparently without good reason, mustered out this regiment, and in 1870 extended similar treatment to the remaining Puerto Rican militia ; instead the Civil Guard, a body of troops consisting of Spaniards came into existence.
FORCE SELDOM NEEDED TO PRESERVE ORDER IN PUERTO RICO
Glancing backward for a moment, we see that troops have very seldom been needed to preserve order in Puerto Rico ; the few instances in which such need did arise were during the early days of the colony. In 1511 Juan Ponce de Leon, the Military Governor, in command of a handful of soldiers took the field with his men to subdue an Indian uprising. At intervals after 1520 there were pirate raids upon the coast which demanded military measures of resistance and led to the first fortification of San Juan.
Although Puerto Rico never engaged in any wars of its own, the island from time to time became involved in the great contest which Spain was waging, and most recently it devoted itself unreservedly to the cause of the Allies in the World War. The record may briefly be summarized :
On November 12, 1595 the English under Admiral Sir John Hawkins and Admiral Drake were repulsed in their effort to enter San Juan Harbor ; the defenders employed 40 pieces of artillery on El Morro and 100 more on shipboard. Sir George Clifford , Earl of Cumberland, on June 6, 1598, landed an English force of 1000 men at Santurce and actually captured all the defenses of San Juan. excepting El Morro. An epidemic of Yellow Fever, however, broke out among the mosquito bitten invaders and, within forty days, compelled their withdrawal. The Dutch, under Boudoyno Henrico, in 1625, occupied the city and for 28 days besieged El Morro and La Forteleza. the issue was romantically decided by single combat with swords in which a Puerto Rican Captain, Amezquito defeated and mortally wounded the Dutch Commander.
Sir Ralph Abereremby with a large English fleet attacked San Juan in 1797, the city then being the second most powerful stronghold in all America ; the defense by the Spanish Captain General Don Ramon de Castro and his army, consisting mostly of Puerto Ricans, was so brilliant that the attack failed.
In 1898 the Spanish garrison of Puerto Rico consisted of 8233 regular soldiers of all arms and some 9100 volunteers, of whom about 800 were Puerto Ricans. On July 25 an American Force of 3,415 men of the Infantry and Field Artillery, with two companies of Engineers and a detachment of Signal Troops, under the command of General Nelson A Miles, affected a landing at Guanica and Ponce with little opposition ; the total of American invaders was presently increased to 15,199 and rapid progress was made in occupying the Island. The war then being in its later stages, the American encountered only slight resistance; armistice put an end to active military operations on August 12. In accordance with the Treaty of Paris, the Spanish troops evacuated Puerto Rico in October 1898.
MILITARY GOVERNMENT CREATED.
In October 1898 , the American Military Government was created, and the Military Department of Puerto Rico assumed control of Insular Military Affairs. Posts were established at San Juan, Ponce, Mayaguez, Arecibo, Aguadillo, Cayey, San German, Bayamon, Manati, Lares, Aibonito and Vieques, and were maintained during two years; all the troops in these Posts were, however, relieved before February 23, 1901. by detachments of the new Puerto Rican Regiment.
Authority for the organization of the first body of native troops in Puerto Rico is found in Section 12 of an Act of Congress approved March 2, 1899, (The Army Appropriation Bill). Major General Guy V. Henry, US Volunteers, then Commanding the "Department of Porto Rico". published Circular 6, Headquarters Department of Porto Rico" , dated March 24, 1899, ordering the recruiting of a Battalion of volunteers from the natives of Puerto Rico. The recruiting progressed fairly and in May 1899 the Battalion was nearly filled.
On May 20,1899, Brigadier General George W. Davis, US Volunteers, who had succeeded General Henry in command of the Department, published General Order, No. 65, "Headquarters Department of Porto Rico", series of 1899, for the formation of the Battalion and designation of the companies as A,B,C, and D, fixing the enlisted strength to 100 men each.
The first record of the assignment of an officer to duty with this unit is that of Captain Csmun Latrobe jr. , who was appointed "Captain Porto Rico Battalion" on May 17, 1899, but there is reason to believe that the first officer to actually serve with the organization under a commission in it was Captain Thomas F. Maginnis (1st Lt 11th Infantry), who accepted his volunteer commission May 29,1899. This officer was one of those who were designated to enlist and instruct the native soldiers, and his actual service with them antedated his volunte commission.
The records show that Company A was organized at Mayaguez, Company B at Ponce, and Companies C and D at San Juan. All the First Sergeants were Americans. The first Adjutant of the Battalion was 1st Lt Christian Briend.
General Orders No. 172 , "Headquarters Department of Porto Rico", dated October 27,1899 , authorized the strength of the companies to 112 men each, setting the Puerto Rican organization to the war strength authorized to same organizations in the United States.
On December 1,1899 , Major Lorenqo P. Davidson was relieved from Command of the Battalion and Major Eben Swift succeeded him in command. During the summer of 1899 it was found that a number of musicians had been enlisted in different companies. Those men were gathered together at San Juan, carried on special duties away from their companies and were organized into a Band of 17 or 18 pieces. There is no authentic record of the exact date when this organization was first formed, but from the best information obtainable it is believed to have been in presentable condition around September or October 1899. It is evident that the actual band in this Department, which was part of the 65th Infantry until 1943, is the continuation of the little band that was formed in 1899.
On February 12, 1900, General Davis issued General Order No 34, "Headquarters Department of Porto Rico", series of 1900, directing that under instructions from the President of the United States, through the Secretary of War, a Mounted Battalion of Porto Ricans, be organized. The order prescribed that the battalion should consist of four companies designated E , F, G, and H, to be the Mounted Battalion of the "Porto Rican Regiment". This was the first official allusion of a Regiment of native troops.
On February 20, 1900, "Headquarters Department of Porto Rico" issued General Order No. 38, prescribing that the two Battalions of native troops should be known as the "Porto Rican Regiment US Volunteers". The mounted Battalion was to be stationed at Camp Henry, Post of Cayey.
PORTO RICO US VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
On March 8, 1900, "Headquarters Department of Porto Rico" issued General Order No. 50 changing the name of the Regiment to the "Porto Rico Regiment US Volunteer Infantry " being the 1st Commanding Officer of the outfit Lt. Colonel James Buchanan.
Of the two authorized assistant Surgeons of the Regiment one was a native, Dr. Jose Lugo Vina, who held the rank of Captain. This was the first native Doctor to hold a commission in the Army.
The band and the 1st Battalion of the "Porto Rico US Volunteer Infantry" participated in the inauguration, March 4, 1901 of President William McKinley, under the command of Major William E. Almy. This command left San Juan on the transport "Rowlins" February the 25th , and arrived at Newport News, March the 1st. It remained on board the transport until noon of March the 2nd when it entrained and reached Washington over the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad at 10:00 PM , and camped down on the top floor of the War Department building. It took part in the parade of March 4, and left Washington on the Pennsylvania Railroad at 7:00 AM, March 5, for New York, arriving at 5:00 PM and going on board the Transport "Sedwick", which sailed at 4:00 PM , March 6, and reached San Juan at 1:00 PM , March 11th. The only Puerto Rican officer in this parade was 1st Lt. Blas Nadal.
According to the records, the first Porto Rican officer in the organized native troops was 1st Lt. Blas Nadal, who was appointed an officer from the ranks on 14 August 1899.
THE PORTO RICO PROVISIONAL REGIMENT OF INFANTRY
On May 20, 1901, General Order No. 72, provided for the mustering out of the "Porto Rico Regiment of Volunteer Infantry" on June 30, 1901. The same Order authorized the organization of a new Regiment to be known as the "Porto Rico Provisional Regiment of Infantry", and to be composed of two battalions offour companies each and a band. Each company was to consist of 104 men. Companies E , F, G, and H would constitute the 2nd Battalion, which would be mounted.
The Regiment as it was organized continued in existence until June 30, 1908, although a reorganization was made on June 30, 1904. Up to June 30, 1904, the officers were appointed by the President of the United States, without the consent of the Senate of the United States. This gave the officers a peculiar status insofar as they were not considered in the regular service.
Congressional Legislation of April 23, 1904 , provided for the reorganization of the Regiment extending its life for a provisional term of four years from June 30, 1904. The changes in the status of the officers and men were radical The field officers were required to be detailed from the line of the Army, in the same grade. All officers below the field grade were to be mustered out of the Regiment, June 30, 1904. The President was then authorized by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States, to reap point all those that would successfully pass a mental, moral and physical examination, for a provisional term of four years to begin July 1, 1904 . The legislation also authorized the examination of native civilians to be appointed in the grade of second lieutenants for a term of four years, if they passed the examination. Enlistment's were restricted exclusively for native citizens of Puerto Rico.
Examinations for officers were started around May 19, 1904, and the results were kept secret until July 1, 1904, when reappointments wore made. Four Captains and a list Lieutenant (Surgeon) failed to pass the examination. Of the native civilians who were examined only one was successful. His name was Jaime Nadal, who was appointed a Second Lieutenant on July 1st, 1904. Lt. Jaime Nadal was a brother of the first native officer of the Regiment, Lt. Blas Nadal, who died December 1st 1901.
Again in 1905, a battalion of Puerto Rican Troops, part of the Regiment, participated in the inauguration of President Theodore Roosevelt. The command sailed from San Juan on February 23, 1905, on the Steamship "Arcadia" for Washington. The steamer had orders to proceed up the Potomac River direct to Washington. It tied up at the Quartermaster deck at Washington Barracks on March 3, at 11:00 PM. The battalion paraded dressed with the Blue Dress Uniform, as a part of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division, commanded bo Major General J. F. Wade. The following Puerto Rican Officers were present at the parade having made the trip with the Battalion ; Captain Jose Lugo Vina , Asst. Surgeon, and 2nd Lt. Jaime Nadal.
On January 1905 new examinations were held for the appointment of native officers. The results were known late in March and appointments of seven civilians were made as second lieutenants to rank from march 3, 1905. These appointees, all from civil life and ignorant of military matters were: Henry C. Rexach, Pedro J. Parra, Eduardo Iriarte, Teofilo Marxuach, Eugenio C de Hostos, Louis S. Emmanuelly, and Pascual Lopez.
No staff officers had ever been authorized for the Regiment. On March 25, 1905, one additional captain was authorized to be detailed as Regimental Staff Officer.
During the month of December 1905 another examination of native civilians was held for appointments as Second Lieutenants. As the result of examinations two vacancies were filled. Appointments were made to Mr. Felix Emanuelli and Mr. Daniel Rodriquez, being commissioned on February 9, 1906. to rank from January 17, 1906.
In June 1908 all officers of the Regiment were subjected to a physical examination to determine their fitness for commissions in the Regular Army under an Act of Congress approved May 27, 1908. All were found physically qualified.
In June 30, 1908, the Porto Rico Provisional Regiment of Infantry passed out of existence.
THE PORTO RICO REGIMENT OF INFANTRY, UNITED STATES ARMY
"The Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry, United States Army" was created July 1, 1998, under authority of the act of Congress, approved May 27, 1908, as published by General Orders 100, War Department, dated June 16, 1908, which made the Regiment a part of the Regular Army. The act provided that the new Regiment should be composed of the two battalions of the "Porto Rican Provisional Regiment of Infantry", in service on June 30, 1908. By means of the new act the officers were placed on the same status with other officers of similar rank in the Army except with regard to promotion.
The records show that this was the first year (1908) in which the Regiment trained a baseball team. It entered competition with the San Juan Base Ball Association, winning the championship by a margin of one game over the pennant winners of the year before. The Championship finished April 3,1909.
On July 23, 1909, Mr. John Rivera was commissioned in the Army as a Chaplain. His commission was effective May 14, 1909.
On November 8, 1909, four new appointments were made of natives to fill the ranks of the Regiment as Second Lieutenants. They were Leopoldo Mercader, Urbino Nadal, Adolfo J. de Hostos, and Enrique de Orbeta.
On November 9, 1909, 1st Lt. Pedro J. Parra was detailed by the War Department as Military Aide to the Governor of Puerto Rico. This was the first record of a military aide to the Governor of Puerto Rico from the "Regiment of Porto Rico".
On November 9, 1910, another Board of Officers was appointed to examine native candidates for appointment as Second Lieutenants in the Army. Eleven candidates appeared for examination, of which four were appointed on November 27, to rank from November 25, 1910. The four accepted their commissions. The selected candidates were Enrique Urrutia Jr., Arturo Moreno Calderon, Carlos Manuel Lopez and Rafael Bird.
On January 12, 1911, Major General Frederick D. Grant, Commanding the Department of the East arrived at Puerto Rico for an inspection of the Regiment, with special reference to its efficiency for field exercises. The inspection was finished around January 20, 1911. Addressing the troops, General Grant said that "This was one of the best regiments he had ever seen, and that there were few as good, and none better in the Department under his command",
On November 6, 1911 another Board of Officers was appointed with the purpose of recommending candidates for appointment as Second Lieutenants to fill existing vacancies. Mr. Serafin M. Montesinos and Mr. Pedro A. Hernandez were appointed as a result of the examination given on January 5. 1912, to rank from December 8, 1911.
The records show that teams from each company participated in a rifle competition in August 1915, for the Harvey Trophy. Company F won the trophy. The National Match Course was fired as prescribed by Bulletin 10 , War Department 1915. The trophy was presented by Colonel William E. Harvey of the N. G. District of Columbia. This is the first record obtainable of Rifle Competitions in the Regiment.
On July 1, 1916 , a reorganization of the Regiment in accordance with the provisions of Section 21 of the act of Congress approved June 3 , 1916 was begun. This law authorized the increase of infantry companies to 100 men as peace quota , and to 150 men for war , and created Machine Gun and Supply Companies , of strength of 53 and 74 for peace and war respectively , for the Machine Gun Company and a constant strength of 37 men for the Supply Company. The organization of the 3rd Battalion was ordered by the Regimental Commander in General Order No. 4 ," Headquarters Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry" , dated July 1, 1916. Lt. Jaime Nadal was ordered to duty as Instructor at the Army Service Schools.
On January 30, 1917 a new group of Puerto Ricans were appointed to serve as Second Lieutenants of the Puerto Rico Regiment. The appointees were Manuel B. Navas , Enrique M. Benitez, Vicente N. Diaz , Andres Lopez , Ramon S Torres , Modesto E. Rodriuez and Ernesto F. Colon.
Upon the entrance of America into the World War , the Legislature of Puerto Rico , in a spirit of patriotism , requested that the Selective draft law be extended to the island and this was accomplished by Presidential Proclamation in May. Pursuant thereto , 236,853 men were registered for selection , of which 17,855 were selected, and all of them, except 139 reported for service. Camp Las Casas was established near Santurce by Lt. Colonel Orval P. Townshend, then Commanding the "Porto Rican Regiment of Infantry", who was subsequently relieved of command of the camp by Brigadier General Edward Christman. Three training camps were conducted in which by July 20, a total of 706 officers were trained and commissioned. By the date of the Armistice, the Infantry Brigade at Camp Las Casas had attained a high degree of efficiency and was prepared for overseas service.
Meanwhile, home guard units were organized in the various municipalities throughout the Island, consisting of men past the age for field service who volunteered for this duty. The force attained a strength of 1,500 men.
On May 3, 1917, the Regiment was ordered to recruit to war strength of 1969 men in order to embark for the Canal Zone on the US Army Transport "Buford". By the 12th of May, everything was ready for the movement to the new station, but on this date orders were received directing that such troops could not be accommodated on the ship and they were to remain on the island to await a second voyage. According to instructions, the 1st Battalion , and Company M were ordered to remain.
On the 14th of May 1917, the Regiment , less the units to wait on the island, sailed from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Colon , Republic of Panama. The first contingent of troops arrived at Colon on the 19th of May. On the 23rd of May the 1st Battalion and Company M , less small detachments, sailed for Panama arriving there the 27th of May.
On July 16,1917 , four new civilians were appointed 2nd. Lieutenants of the Army. These were Luis F Cianchini , Victor E. Demenech , Antonio A. Vasquez , and Juan E. Guzman.
During the War , the regiment served in Panama in defense of the Canal Zone. Officers and enlisted men were detailed for duties outside of their organization , specially for the training of civilians to be inducted into the Army. On March 1919 the Regiment returned to Puerto Rico from the War Garrison at Panama.
By the reorganization Act of June 4 , 1920, the regiment was redesignated as "65th Infantry, US Army". There has been no other change in the name of the Regiment since that time.
On November 15, 1922, a board was appointed to make a selection of a march to be known as the "65th Infantry March". The board was composed of Lt. Colonel H.W. Gregg, Captain Charles A Willoughby, and WO Luis R. Miranda. All selections suggested were played by the Band for the board to consider. WO Miranda composed and recommended an adaptation of the Puerto Rican composition "Borinquena". The board unanimously approved the recommendation, considering that the "Borinquena" was in fact, the National Anthem of Puerto Rico; closely linked with the history of the country, very popular among natives and of marked musical value. It is since that time that the "Borinquen", as adapted, is known as the "65th Infantry March".
For the first time in its history the 65th Infantry was presented in the track and field meet at Jersey City on June 9, 1923, where al the regiments of the 2nd Corps Area took part. The regiment performers got second place, scoring 14 points. With disadvantages resulting from change in climate, the team made a splendid showing by having the second place while participating with other fifteen contestants.
A Base Ball Team of the Regiment was sent to Governor's Island , New York , on July 31 ,1923. The team was to compete with other regimental teams of the 2nd Corps Area . This was the first Base Ball team to visit the United States from Puerto Rico.
The records of the Regiment for the years following the first World War show that the Regiment performed all duties required for similar units. The Regiment served as a backbone for the preparedness of youngsters in Puerto Rico. Service was rendered at ROTC's , CMTC's and National Guard Camps. Almost every officer in Puerto Rico , either drafted from the Reserve or from the National Guard , had something in common with many men from the 65th Infantry, who in one way or another had been connected with the early stages of military life of those officers. In 1940 , with the outcome of hostilities in Europe, the Regiment, as well as all units of the Army, was reorganized and brought to war strength. New blood was brought into the lines of the organization. By this time the discipline of the Regiment was of a very high standard, due to the fact that their men had been built up for more than twenty years in a stage of responsibility. New men in the line learned that , and the Regiment acquired a high degree of discipline.
When War broke against the United States, the Regiment underwent a extensive training. During the year 1942, together with the 295th and 296th Infantry Regiment, it was deployed along the coasts and vital installations of Puerto Rico , waiting for an expected invasion of the Island.
On 7 January 1943 the Regiment sailed for Panama where it offered security to the Panama Canal, occupying positions in both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Isthmus. During the stay in the Canal Zone, intensive training was given, especially in Jungle Warfare. Specially trained men served as instructors for many officers and men of Latin American Armies who were sent to Panama for courses on American Army Tactics.
On 30 December 1943 the Regiment was relieved from duty at Panama and sent to Fort Eustis , Va. , after a short stay of about one week at Jackson Barracks, New Orleans. At Fort Eustis, the Regiment went through a combat infiltration course for about two months. It was well known at this time that the regiment would be moving to Europe at any time.
On 7 March 1944, Companies L, K, Hq & Hq Co 3rd Bn. and detachments from the Regimental Hq Co and Medical Detachment sailed for North Africa, arriving at Casablanca. About one month later the remainder of the Regiment sailed for North Africa. After passing the Straight of Gibraltar it joined the advance detachment at Staging area No 2 , in the Oran sector. The complete Regiment stayed in that staging area undergoing training. About two weeks later the Regiment was moved to camp port Aux Poules.
On 29 April 1944, the 3rd Battalion embarked on board HMT Strathnaver and H.M.S. Orduna at Mers el Kebir, Oran. The Battalion sailed at 1315 on 30 April 1944 and arrived Naples, Italy , at 1915, 3 May 1944, where it moved bo foot to Piazza Garibaldi, Naples, entrained this station at 1145, and arrived Staging Area No.4, Cami Flegreis, at 1300 same day. On 9 November 1944, the Battalion moved to Staging Area No. 1, at Bagnoli, Italy, and was quartered at Colegio Constancio Ciano, where, while staging, it performed guard duty and conducted some training.
Upon orders from the 12th Air Force the Battalion moved by different groups to Corsica. The first group Hq Co and Company L, embarked aboard US SLST 4, on 16 May 1944, and sailed the next day, arriving Ajaccio, Corsica, on 18 May 1944, from where the group was moved by trucks to Chisonaccia, (Corsica). Company I left Naples aboard H.M.S. Thuster on 19 May 1944, and arrived Porto Vecchio, Corsica, on 21 May 1944 , from where it was moved by motor transportation to Solenzara, (Corsica). Company K sailed from Naples on 25 May 1944, and arrived Porto Vecchio, Corsica, on 31 May 1944, from where it was moved by motor transportation to Alto, Alesan, and Poretta.
During the time that the 3rd Battalion was with the 12th Air Force at Corsica, the rest of the Regiment was at Port Aux Poules, Oran Sector, under going amphibious training. At this time the Regiment was attached to the 7th Army for Administration and to the 91st Infantry Division for training.
Effective 7 June 1944, the 3rd Battalion was reassigned to the 7th Army with orders to rejoin the Regiment. Movement from Corsica to North Africa started on 13 July 1944 .
The Regiment was at this time getting ready to be shipped to France. Company C 65th Infantry was detached from the outfit and flown on 17 September 1944 to join the 7th Army Headquarters where it was attached to Special Troops for the security of the Command Post. Company C stayed on duty with the 7th Army Headquarters until 30 July 1945.
On 22 September 1944 , the first elements of the Regiment started their way to France, The landing was made at the Ports of Marseilles and Toulon. All troops except Company C, were then united at a Staging Area at Marseilles, from where the regiment was split and assigned different security missions.
On 13 December 1944 the 3rd Bn. 65th Infantry was committed to action on the Maritime Alps at Peira Cava. It was relieved from the Maritime Alps on 26 February 1945. There was a total of forty seven battle casualties from the Battalion in this sector. The first Puerto Rican to be killed at this place was Sgt. Angel Martinez. Sgt. Martinez was from Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico , and had been inducted into the service, On 15 October 1940. He came into the Army with Company E 296th Infantry, where he had served for some time. The movement of the 3rd Battalion from the Maritime Alps was direct to the Saarbrucken Area , where in conjunction with the 1st Battalion, training was given on attack to fortified positions and village fighting.
On 18 March 1945 the CP of the Regiment moved to Kaiserlatorn. The Regiment as a whole, was then used on security missions in different towns and cities around that area. Later some organizations of the Regiment went to the District of Manheim, Germany, where different duties, to include Military Government activities, Anti- sabotage, and Security Missions were performed.
In the European Theater of Operations units of the Regiment were awarded battle participation credits in the Naples-Fogis, Rome-Arno, Central Europe and the Rineland Campaings.
On October 15, 1945 the Regiment moved to Calais, France, which was a Staging Area , and in accordance Letter, Subject : Movement Orders, Shipment R8242, Headquarters US Forces European Theater, dated 9 October 1945, the Regiment was ordered to Puerto Rico for the purpose ofrehabilitation and further service. On October 27, 1945, the Regiment sailed from France arriving at Puerto Rico on 9 November 1945.
ARMS: Sable, a Maltese cross argent.
CREST: On a wreath of the colors, a lion rampant rules crowned
MOTTO -Honor Et Fidelitas
This was originally the Porto Rican Regiment, name changed to 65th Infantry in 1920. Puerto Rico discovered in 1493 by Columbus, and named by him "San Juan" which name is still retained by the largest city, where the 65th Infantry has had its Headquarters most of its existence. The name "San Juan" was for the old military order of St. John of Jerusalem, later known as the Knights of Malta, whose habit was black with a white Maltese Cross, which has accordingly been adopted for the shield of this Regiment. The crest is from the arms of Juan Ponce de Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico.