By J.D. LeipoldSeptember 25, 2009
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 25, 2009) -- In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Army welcomed Col. Gilberto N. Villahermosa to the Pentagon for a book-signing of his three-year history project.
His book, "Honor and Fidelity, the 65th Infantry in Korea, 1950-1953," was about the country's first all-Hispanic regular-Army regiment.
Villahermosa was invited by the Center of Military History to talk about the close link between the Puerto Rican people and the regiment nicknamed, "The Borinqueneers" in which his father served as a noncommissioned officer.
The 65th was created at the turn of the 19th century and participated in World Wars I and II and the Korea War but was deactivated in 1956 and became the only unit ever to be transferred from the active Army to the Puerto Rico National Guard.
Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, chief of Army legislative liaison, introduced Villahermosa to the audience. Champoux's father had served with the 65th in 1952 as a company commander.
Villahermosa, who is presently assigned as the senior defense representative with the American embassy in the Republic of Yemen, said the book-signing was more than just about commemorating the role of Hispanics and Latinos in the Army.
"This is also about recognizing the wide ethnic diversity in the American Army and all the sacrifices that have been made to put the country where it is today," he said. "My father was a veteran of the regiment, so I thought it was exciting when then-Secretary Louis Caldera asked me to write the official history of the regiment."
Villahermosa added that his three sons have worn the Army uniform and two of them still are.
"This book is really a history of pride, a history of the glory days, then there's a decline, there's failure, then there's redemption," he said. "There was such a shortage of troops and professional NCOs that they were sent to the rest of 8th Army.
"That goes to show you when the NCO corps is strong, when it's well educated, when it's experienced that was when units experienced their glory days. That's something we have to always take to heart, that the backbone of this great Army of ours are our NCOs," he said.
("Honor and Fidelity, the 65th Infantry in Korea, 1950-1953" is available as a free PDF download from the Army Center of Military History. See attached link.)