Borinqueneers Deserve Their Gold Medals

Borinqueneers Deserve Their Gold Medals

Posted: 11/11/2013

By Rafael Collazo, Director of Political Campaigns, NCLR

Sirvió en la Guerra Civil

Veterans Day is a special day on the calendar for me. It brings to mind the amazing lives of my two abuelos: Alfredo Gonzalez and Rafael Collazo. Both men grew up with modest means in Puerto Rico in the early part of the 20th century. They both also enlisted in the military to serve their country as well as provide for their families. In those days, the U.S. military served as one of the few outlets for poor Latinos to move up the economic ladder. It also provided Hispanics a rare opportunity to display their talents and patriotism to the larger American society. This distinct platform is a major reason why so many Hispanics have and continue to serve our country with great pride.

Their service is one of the hallmarks of our family to this day. Don Alfredo loves to share tales of his time at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He fell in love with politics through the Viva Kennedy campaign of 1960 that was being organized by local Mexican American activists, including the legendary Raymond Telles. That experience inspired my grandfather to stay involved in politics his entire life. He even served as Puerto Rico’s Sergeant-at-Arms in the late 1980s. Similarly, Don Rafa continued to serve others through civic life after his time fighting in World War II. These role models are the reason I have dedicated my own career to advocacy and civil rights.

This legacy came has come around full circle with the ongoing campaign to recognize the 65th Infantry Regiment, the “Borinqueneers,” with the Congressional Gold Medal. Once bestowed, it will be the highest award ever for any group of Hispanic veterans.

The Borinqueneers was the only Hispanic-segregated active-duty unit ever in the U.S. Armed Forces that played a prominent role in three U.S. wars. The most prominent military achievements of the 65th Infantry Regiment came during the Korean War where the unit participated in nine major campaigns and earned two Presidential Unit Citations, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and two Republic of Korea Unit Citations. More than 3,000 65th Infantry soldiers were wounded, and more than 700 were killed. Individual members have earned 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, 258 Silver Stars, 628 Bronze Stars, and more than 2,700 Purple Hearts.

The ongoing effort of Hispanic veterans’ groups led by the Borinqueneers Gold Medal Alliance has led to the bipartisan congressional bills H.R. 1726 and S. 1174 being introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Along with dozens of congressional co-sponsors and other allied partner Latino advocacy groups, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) wholeheartedly supports the efforts to have the 65th Infantry receive the Congressional Gold Medal. This distinction will catapult the service of all Hispanic veterans past, present, and future into the national spotlight, including the service of my dear abuelos.Foto

Awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Borinqueneers is consistent with NCLR’s organizational values of patriotism, public service excellence, and civic empowerment. On this Veterans’ Day, let’s not forget the service of our Hispanic veterans and the freedoms they defended for all of us.

Follow National Council of La Raza on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NCLR

Lieutenant Augusto Rodriguez: A Reverence that Will Not Be Forgotten

Lieutenant Augusto Rodriguez: A Reverence that Will Not Be Forgotten

La igualdad Nos pertenece, es nuestro derecho y el destino que nos espera. Esta lucha llevada HOY por muchos buenos hombres y mujeres. Pero  sobre Todo por aquellos que abrieron brecha para futuras generaciones… Hoy quiero traer a Vuestra atención y conocimiento del primer soldado de origen Puertorriqueño en el ejército de la Unión que […]

Latinos Served in the American Civil War: Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez

11/08/2013No Comment

Latinos Served in the American Civil War: Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez

La igualdad Nos pertenece, es nuestro derecho y el destino que nos espera. Esta lucha llevada HOY por muchos buenos hombres y mujeres. Pero  sobre Todo por aquellos que abrieron brecha para futuras generaciones… Hoy quiero traer a Vuestra atención y conocimiento del primer soldado de origen Puertorriqueño en el ejército de la Unión que […]

Lieutenant Augusto Rodriguez: A Reverence that Will Not Be Forgotten

By: Captain (Retired) William Rodriguez

“We want America to remember us forever,” said Bill Toledo, an original Navajo Code Talker. Mr. Toledo expressed concern that our country might one day forget the sacrifices of those who fought in World War II. But, what about those forgotten heroes who fought, let’s say, back to the middle of the nineteenth century during the American Civil War? There we found, after long hours and months of investigation, the first veteran born in Puerto Rico, that we know of, and it happens to be Lieutenant Augusto Rodriguez. Lieutenant Rodriguez made history as the very first Puerto Rican veteran. I’m talking about the period between 1861 through 1865, date on which he was discharged as an officer of the Union Army at the end of the American Civil War.

 

Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez was born in 1861 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He served as an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War in the defenses of Washington, D.C. and led his men in the Battles of Fredericksburg and Wyse Fork.

When the island was still a Spanish possession he emigrated with his family to the United States in the 1850s. The 1860 census of New Haven, Connecticut, shows there were 10 Puerto Ricans living there, amongst them Augusto Rodríguez. Many other Puerto Ricans settled in places such as New York and Massachusetts. Upon the outbreak of the American Civil War, many Puerto Ricans joined the ranks of the military armed forces. However, since Puerto Ricans were still Spanish subjects, they were inscribed as Spaniards. This could have been a reason why it was difficult to find his remains since we were looking for a Puerto Rican soldier.

People to become a part of the Union Army were recruited by means of public announcements. It was an all volunteer army.  In 1862, Rodríguez volunteered and joined I Company 15th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. For reasons I can’t recall his name was misspelled and listed as “Augustus Rodereques”. His unit was organized on August 25, 1862 in New Haven. It was also known as the “Lyon Regiment” in honor of Nathaniel Lyon, the first General Officer killed in the U.S. Civil War. The Regiment left Connecticut for Washington, D.C. on August 28, and was attached to Casey’s Provisional Brigade, Military District of Washington, serving in the defenses of Washington until September 17, 1862.

In December 1 through 6, the 15th Connecticut Infantry marched to Fredericksburg, Virginia and was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, IX Corps, Army of the Potomac commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. Lieutenant Rodríguez led his men in the Battle of Fredericksburg which was fought against General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia from December 12–15. The battle resulted in a disastrous defeat for General Burnside and the Union Army. Burnside attempted to make an offensive movement on January 20, 1863, in which Lt. Rodríguez and the men of the 15th Connecticut Regiment were involved. However the offensive, which became known as the Mud March, was aborted because of constant rain.

On March 1865, Lt. Rodríguez and the 15th Connecticut were assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, District of Beaufort, North Carolina, Department of North Carolina. From March 8–10, Rodríguez once more led his men in combat in the Battle of Wyse Fork, a confrontation against a Confederate army being gathered under Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield. The final outcome of the battle resulted in a Union great victory.

Upon the occupation of Kinston, North Carolina by Union forces, the 15th Connecticut Infantry was assigned to provost duty as part of the garrison. They performed this duty until June 6, when it was ordered to New Bern, North Carolina, to prepare for muster-out.

The regiment was mustered out on June 27, 1865 and Lt. Rodríguez was discharged in New Haven on July 12, 1865. For his heroic performance he was awarded the Army Civil War Campaign Medal.

After the war Rodríguez became a businessman but, wearing a uniform and routinely discipline was in his blood stream and soon became also the first Puerto Ricanfirefighter in New Haven. Rodríguez  was married to Eliza Rodregues with whom he had a daughter, Clara A. Rodregues. On March 22, 1880, he died in his home in New Haven and was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery of his hometown were his remains were found in the Firefighter Lot, another reason why it was difficult to find his grave since it was expected to be buried in a military cemetery and under the name of Augusto Rodriguez.

It is important to mention that the honorable military career of Lieutenant Augusto Rodriguez has been brought to us thanks to the painstaking of Mr. Rafael Cruz Miller, owner and chairperson of Radio Esfuerzo Estadista, the first spanish spoken web radio dedicated to fight for the civil and human rights of Puerto Rico’s voters who demand to add another star to the Flag of the United States as the 51st State of the union, a mission not too many politicians have had the valor and interest to pursuit. This writing is not complete if we don’t recognize also the interest and the precious time spent by Ms. Deborah Couture. Without her effort this piece of our history would have remained untold and buried with the remains of our hero, Lieutenant Augusto Rodrigues aka:  “Augustus Rodereques”

But, this is not the end of this story. Who are Lt. Rodriguez’s descendent still living? Is he a part of my ancestry? My father, born in 1898 was a combatant during the 1st. World War. Who knows, the world is very small and technology will help me discover maybe another story. [1]


[1] For those interested read: “The history of the Fifteenth Connecticut volunteers in the war for the defense of the Union, 1861-1865″; By Sheldon B. Thorpe; Page 154; Publisher” Kessinger Publishing, LLC; Library of Congress E499.5 15th; Open Library OL13493623M; LC Control Number 02012831; OCLC/WorldCat 3521760.

-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA’>[1] For those interested read: “The history of the Fifteenth Connecticut volunteers in the war for the defense of the Union, 1861-1865″; By Sheldon B. Thorpe; Page 154; Publisher” Kessinger Publishing, LLC; Library of Congress E499.5 15th; Open Library OL13493623M; LC Control Number 02012831; OCLC/WorldCat 3521760.

1st. Puerto Rican Veteran.docx 1st. Puerto Rican Veteran.docx
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Latinos Served in the American Civil War: Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez

 This week marks the 150th anniversary of the start of American Civil War. In an effort to link up our contribution, albeit not often mentioned, during the civil war we decided to introduce you to the men that served and received decorations for their service and valor. Our first feature of this series is Puerto Rican born and Union Army Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez.

Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez was born in 1835 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Rodríguez migrated to the United States and according to the 1860 census, was one of the only 10 Puerto Ricans living in New Haven, Connecticut.

In 1862, Rodríguez joined the 15th Connecticut Regiment, Connecticut’s volunteer infantry also known as the Lyon Regiment which was named after the first General officer killed in the civil war Nathaniel Lyon. Rodríguez’s Regiment was first assigned to serve as the defense of Washington D.C. until September 17, 1862.

In December 1862, Rodríguez’s Regiment marched to Virginia where, under the command of Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, they fought against General Robert E. Lee’s confederate army in the battle of Fredericksburg.

In March of 1865, Rodríguez along with his men, joined the battle of Wyse Fork under the command of Major General John M. Schofield and were victorious against the Confederate army.

Rodríguez was awarded the American Civil War Campaign medal and was discharged on July 12, 1865. Soon after Rodríguez became a firefighter for the city of New Haven, CT.

Pa’lante salutes this patriot and demonstrates that Latinos’ contributions to this nation is not recent. Back in 1865 Puerto Rico was a Spanish subject nation, not a U.S. commonwealth. Therefore, Rodriguez’s joining the Union Army was not related to being a U.S. citizen but an act of voluntary enrollment by a man that felt compelled to defend his newfound country.

www.latinamericanstudies.org

www.elboricua.com

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By Efrain Nieves – reposted from Pa’lante Latino with the author’s permission –original link

 

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Lo ultimo en política de Puerto Rico/USA

Posted by on 11/12/2013. Filed under Mala Administración PPD y Neo-Comunistas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
La Estadidad es una, pero cada cual la aprecia a su manera, por eso a veces parecemos divididos, pero es que somos realmente democráticos.

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El PPD ha sido Peor y Peor: AAV Peor que Sila; Sila Peor que RHCIII; RHCIII Peor que RHCII; RHCII Peor que RHCI; y RHCI Peor que RSV.
... ser Puertorriqueño es decidir con valentía, respetar a tu familia, hacer y no criticar, pero sobre todo, ser Puertorriqueño es no rendirse ...