FORT BUCHANAN, PR- Veterans from different generations in Puerto Rico had the special opportunity to meet at the U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico headquarters, Nov. 11, and reflect about the true meaning of serving the Nation in uniform.
Victor Labarca, President of the 65th Infantry Regiment Association (Borinqueneers), and Korean War Veteran, met with Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Méndez, a Mortuary Affairs Noncommissioned Officer, who deployed 72 hours after the September 11, 2001 attacks, with the 311th Quartermaster Company, and Spc. Anthony Collazo, a Personnel Administration Specialist who recently returned from Korea, after successfully completing a mission with the 271st Human Resources Company.
"I am very proud to see these young Soldiers who serve with great sense of dedication," said Labarca who served in Korea in 1950, wearing the Sentry Box uniform patch, also known as Garita, currently used by the U.S. Army Reserve Caribbean Multifunctional Geographic Command.
"That patch is very special. To us in Korea it meant that we had a piece of Puerto Rico with us in the battlefield," added Labarca.
For Collazo, his mission in Korea, wearing the Garita patch, was defined by his visit to the monument built in Seoul to honor the Borinqueneers.
"I did not know the 65th Infantry Regiment was so important for the Korean people. It was a very emotional experience when I visited the monument that the people of Korea built to honor the Borinqueneers and their sacrifices," said Collazo.
For Méndez, having the opportunity to share experiences with Labarca and Collazo, represents a privilege.
"This encounter between different generations of veterans clearly showcases how the U.S. Soldiers from Puerto Rico have been a critical part of the defense of the United States," said Méndez.
"The United States Army has changed throughout the years. However, something that has been a constant is the commitment to serve, the dedication to duty of the Soldiers, especially of the Soldiers from Puerto Rico," added a proud Méndez.
Labarca also reflected about the role of the current generation of Soldiers from Puerto Rico.
"On Veterans Day all I do is to remember. And you, the new generation of Soldiers help me in the process of remembering all the sacrifices we had in Korea. We remember our mission back in 1950, and feel happy that you will now pick up the baton and continue the mission of defending liberty and democracy," said an emotional Labarca.
Since 1922, Soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, the largest federal U.S. Army command in the Caribbean, have played a critical role in the defense of the Nation, serving in different countries around the world.