Three local members of all-Puerto Rican Army regiment will be recognized for service
Juan Romero-Silva of Palm Bay, William Vila-Velez of Palm Bay, and Chaplain James B. Allan of Indialantic, who served in the U.S. Army’s all-Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment, will receive replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal on July 28 in Viera.
Three Brevard County men who served in the U.S. Army’s all-Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment will receive replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal on July 28 in Viera.
Congressman Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, will award Juan Romero-Silva of Palm Bay, William Vila-Velez of Palm Bay, and Chaplain James B. Allan of Indialantic with the nation’s highest civilian honor during a 10 a.m. ceremony at the Brevard County Commission Chambers at 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way.
“It’s a great privilege to recognize Juan Romero-Silva, William Vila-Velez, and Chaplain James B. Allan for their service to our nation,” Posey said in a statement. “We owe a debt of gratitude to all our men and women in uniform and their families for their service and great personal sacrifices they make in defense of our liberty.”
Nicknamed “the Borinqueneers” after Puerto Rico’s pre-colonial name of Borinquen, the 65th Infantry Regiment was created in 1898 by Congress after the Spanish-American War as a segregated, all-Puerto Rican unit.
The regiment fought in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. During combat in Korea, the regiment earned nine Distinguished Service Crosses, about 250 Silver Stars and more than 600 Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts.
Romero-Silva, William Vila-Velez and Allan were among several Borinqueneers who were unable to attend a ceremony in April in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol where the Borinqueneers Gold Medal was unveiled.
Posey and Congressman Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico) and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), spearheaded bipartisan legislation to authorize a Congressional Gold Medal for the regiment. The legislation was signed into law in 2014.
Replica gold medal awards are provided by the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony National Committee.
About 1,000 Borinqueneers are still living in the U.S.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Miami), who spoke at the unveiling ceremony in April, called the award long overdue.
“I wish we could have honored you with this medal sooner,” he said.