MSG Jose E. Colon (Ret.)
A TIME TO REMEMBER
I joined Company “H”, 65th Inf. Regt. on March 27, 1937. We had the old soldiers and the recruits. In 1941, I left the Regiment to Headquarters Puerto Rican Department. I arrived in Korea on October 1952 and was assigned to the Personnel office of the 7th Inf. Regt., at Div. Headquarters A month later, I returned to the 65th Inf. Regt. as a Sgt Major. Fifty years later come back clear to my mind. I remember December 31, 1952, in the Chorwon Valley, at midnight with WO Resto, El Pibe, Valentin and others. Being at the site of the Tank Co., very cold, waiting for the new year, sharing news from home, with a tear here and there. Having Mass next day with Father Bacon in the open snowy field using the hood of the jeep as the Altar. At “eighty-three”, these memories are still fresh in my mind. We received sections of the newspaper from home with news about members of the Regiment that were not exactly the way it happened. I should know, I was there. Then orders for the reorganization of the Regiment came. Only ten percent of the Puerto Ricans would stay with the Regiment. I would stay and see friends go, while receiving in some cases those not wanted from other units. The Borinqueneers were gone! Memories they are.
Then the Regiment was ready to go back to combat. Was it a success to have integrated the regiment? Although many Puerto Rican lives may have been saved, and with all the respect to the experts, I believe it was a hell of a mess. I was there. News of the armistice came on July 27, 1953. Headquarters was so close to the front lines that even if it was calm at 11 in the morning or 5 in the afternoon, someone would fire an artillery round to zero-in, just in case. Was that necessary or stupid? Hell broke loose. One shell landed by the kitchen missing Father Bacon (whom I believe should still be scared if he is alive). All the motor vehicles which were parked at the same spot because there was no supposed war, were destroyed. The injured were taken to the medics’ tents where another round landed on top of them. At least one Puerto Rican lost his life.
By seven, a clerk and I were trying to report the casualties from what was left of our office (tent). I believe in God. I always have. I guess that is why I am still around to express my admiration for those who had the valor to defend the right to be free. Really not everything was work, nervousness, and more work — only about eighteen hours a day. There were very funny instances, like the personnel officer assuring the adjutant that he was standing at attention while receiving a good chewing over the telephone about forty miles away. Or arranging a parade with the Division Band to present a letter of commendation to a Mess Sgt who had lied to the Executive Officer. It had to be a Borinqueneer. Sometimes fun, even in combat helps calm the nerves.
On November 1953, I received my orders to return home. I arrived at Fort Buchanan at two AM on December 21. Before going home to my family, I received orders for my next assignment to the same desk I had left a year before. I recently retired for the third time after eight years of volunteer service for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. A Bronze Star, a Certificate of Merit, Awards? Yes, I have them. But nothing compares with the privilege and the HONOR to have served with the 65th Infantry Regiment.
Master Sergeant Jose E. Colon (Ret.)