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Filmmaker Offers Preview Of Upcoming Documentary


May 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002
THE MIAMI HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

Through the power of film, Noemí Figueroa Soulet hopes to tell the story of a group of soldiers from her native land -- Puerto Rico.

For three years she has been documenting soldiers' lives from the 65th Infantry Regiment, the only all-Hispanic unit in U.S. military history. It was made up of Puerto Rican soldiers and fought in World Wars I and II and the Korean War before the squadron was integrated.

Although the documentary, The Puerto Rican Soldier: The Borinqueneers of the 65th Infantry Regiment, is still in the works, she gave a 12-minute sneak preview Friday during a reception at the Hyatt Regency Miami. Hosted by the Puerto Rican Professional Association of South Florida, the event honored the regiment's soldiers and raised money to produce her film.

''I'm very excited that I have been able to help,'' said former soldier Ramon Torres of Tampa. His father, also named Ramon, had also been one of the group's first soldiers.

Torres was one of three soldiers at the reception, which featured an art exhibit by six Puerto Rican artists, a concert by the Puerto Rico Handbells Choir, and the documentary's preview.

''I appreciate the initiative to pay homage to our regiment,'' said former soldier Pedro Santana of Miami. ``It brings back many memories for us.''

Luia A. Torres, vice chairman of PROFESA, says it hosted the event because the soldiers needed to be honored for their bravery and their contributions. ''We feel it's an untold story, and it's necessary to bring out,'' he said.

Soulet, who is based in New York and is co-producing the film with Raquel Ortiz, has interviewed 175 war veterans from the regiment. ''I think it's important for the Puerto Rican community to know about its heroes,'' she said. Catalina Rullan, who attended Friday's reception, called it ''a family affair.'' She took her 8-year-old daughter, Gabriela, with her. ''It's a way for her to get in touch with her roots,'' she said.

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