LETTER TO THE EDITOR
We were in Co. “G” of the 2nd Battalion of 296th Regiment of the National Guard in Puerto Rico. In 1950, when the 65th Infantry Regt. went to war in Korea, we were activated. They gave us intensive training for 16 months. We were the most prepared and the best regiment of the U.S. infantry at that time, according to the statistics of the North American officers who were continuously evaluating us. We were the hope of the 65th, which had suffered substantial casualties and were exhausted.
When they sent us to Korea, we thought were going to be kept together like we were in Puerto Rico. But no, they divided us into groups and distributed us amongst the various companies of the 65th which had suffered casualties. We were the first replacements from the National Guard that headed to Korea. Doña Fela, who was the mayor of San Juan at that time, sent us off with an orchestra. And in between tears and kisses as we passed El Morro fortress, there were crowds of people who had come to say goodbye.
They sent us in a cargo ship which had been prepared to take troops. It was called the Lt. Beaudoin, in honor of an American soldier who had been killed in World War II. How that ship rocked! We slept in four berths to a room. Many of the men, trying to be clever, took the lower berths and then received the blessings which sprouted from the mouths, the vomits of those in the upper berths.
We were like this for the 30 days which it took for the ship to arrive to Korea. Since we were going to the front lines, in Japan they treated us to some of the most delicious pieces of meat ever and we celebrated Christmas. It turns out they had served us horse meat and when my compatriots learned this, they began neighing. When they activated us, we swore oath for 2 years. Since we had been in training 16 months, after 8 months in Korea, they had to discharge us because we had fulfilled our 2 years. Nowadays I believe they sign you up for 4 years.
About 4 years ago, we had a reunion of those of us who were left of the old Co. “G” of the 296th. The original strength of this company had been 850 men, but about 100 of us attended; and many of us were lame, in wheelchairs, frail or half-blind. That’s life.
Jaime Braulio of Mayaguez, PR
Co. I , 65th Inf. Reg., 12/51-6/52