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Benefit Concert To Honor Hispanic Veterans, Support Documentary Film Of Untold Story

May 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002
PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

MIAMI, FL -- Honoring the men of the 65th Infantry Regiment, the only Hispanic-segregated unit in U.S. military history, and to raise funds for a public television work-in-progress documentary about their untold story, the Puerto Rican Professional Association is hosting a Mother's Day Tribute Concert with the acclaimed Puerto Rico Handbells Choir at the Arthur Ashe Auditorium, Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Miami on May 10th, 7:30 p.m.

Mandated by Congress as a segregated unit comprised primarily of Puerto Ricans with mostly continental officers, the 65th went on to demonstrate their military prowess in Korea and earned the respect and admiration of their fellow soldiers and the military authorities, including General Douglas MacArthur. From its inception as a volunteer regiment in 1899, through its participation in World War I, World War II and the Korean Conflict, this unique U.S. Army regiment has been a source of pride to many Puerto Ricans for more than 100 years. During the Korean War, the 65th was sent to battle in the front lines and participated in nine major campaigns. The 65th received a Presidential Unit Citation, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and two Republic of Korea Unit Citations. Although still under research, to date, individual members of the unit have been awarded 7 Distinguished Service Crosses, 163 Silver Stars, 562 Bronze Stars and 1,014 Purple Hearts. For a small island, Puerto Rico suffered tremendous casualties disproportionate to its population.

As the regiment's stay lengthened in Korea, their military performance was affected by various factors. At a particularly difficult battle at Outpost Kelly, the 65th suffered more than 400 casualties, almost 10% of its total Korean War casualties. In October of 1952, there were numerous casualties again in a battle at Jackson Heights. This time, various troops of the 65th refused to continue attacking what they regarded as a suicide post. As a result, almost 100 men were court-martialed and the Puerto Ricans were incorporated into various American units. The 65th Infantry Regiment ceased to exist as an all-Puerto Rican unit, but continued as an integrated unit even participating at the famous Outpost Harry battle. Eventually, the charges against the soldiers were dropped and all were reinstated, except for one Puerto Rican officer. The alarming events that took place at Outpost Kelly and Jackson Heights have not been adequately explained to the public and are shrouded in mystery and controversy. This film will try to explain what really happened there.

The May 10th event begins at 7:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception and an art exhibit by six local Puerto Rican artists, followed by the Concert's first session at 8:30 p.m., a documentary screening and veterans' recognition at 9:00 p.m. and the Concert's second session at 9:30 p.m.

The event is sponsored by American Airlines, Hyatt Regency Miami Hotel, Radio Unica and the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.

For tickets call: 305-981-5513

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