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1st Battalion - 65th Infantry Regiment (Aaslt)

The 65th Infantry, part of the 92nd Infantry Brigade, has trained extensively in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The 65th has also played a key role in state missions.

The 65th was organized in 1899, one year after U.S. forces, mostly Guardmembers, seized Puerto Rico from Spain. The 65th was intended to be a defense force for the protection of Puerto Rico.

During World War II, the 65th remained in Puerto Rico until January 1943, when it moved to Panama and then to France in September 1944. However, the Army did not have any confidence in the fighting ability of the 65th. This prejudice was based on preconceived notions. In reality, the 65th was a well-trained and proud outfit. Although the 3rd Battalion saw some fighting in Italy, most of the 65th was assigned to headquarters as security troops. After the war, the 65th returned to garrison duty in Puerto Rico. An exercise involving the 65th in February 1950 changed the minds of many Army leaders about the 65th's usefulness. The 65th held off the entire 3rd Infantry Division in a successful defense. Pentagon planners took note.

With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, the 65th was ordered to Korea and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division. Between September 1950 and December 1951, the 65th Infantry Regiment established a reputation as one of the 3rd Infantry Division's most dependable formations in Korea. Manned by Puerto Rican troops and commanded by predominantly white officers, the regiment was a well-led, well-trained and disciplined formation. On Feb. 2, 1951 the 65th U.S. Infantry Regiment mounted the last recorded battalion-sized bayonet attack by the US Army.

The regiment's combat effectiveness, however, deteriorated rapidly in 1952. The 65th experienced its first major failures at Outpost Kelly and Jackson Heights in the Ch'orwon Valley of North Korea during September and October 1952. Losing both outposts to sustained Chinese attacks and failing to regain them, the regiment suffered more than 500 battle casualties in one month. Afterward, 95 men of the regiment were court-martialed and convicted of desertion, misbehavior before the enemy and disobeying the orders of a superior officer. Other infantry regiments in Korea experienced deterioration analogous to that of the 65th, and some displayed similar shortcomings on the battlefield as well. Factors within the 65th contributing to the failure included a catastrophic shortage of NCOs, language problems and inept leadership in a few key positions. One cannot overstate the damage done by the large-scale diversion to other units of the bilingual NCOs originally intended for assignment to the 65th. The reliable link between an English-speaking Army and the regiment's Spanish-speaking soldiers simply disappeared.

Today, only the 1st Battalion remains as part of the Puerto Rico National Guard, a testimony to a unique regiment that has served the United States for a hundred years.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:18:53 ZULU