Sergeant First Class Modesto Cartagena
(July 21, 1921-March 2, 2010), was a member of the United States Army
who served in the 65th Infantry Regiment
, an all-Puerto Rican
regiment also known as "The Borinqueneers
", during World War II
and the Korean War
. He was the most decorated Puerto Rican soldier in history.
Cartagena was raised in the mountains of Cayey, Puerto Rico
to a poor family during the Great Depression
. Cartagena enlisted in the U. S. Army
in San Juan
and was assigned to the 65th Infantry
, which was also known as the Borinqueneers, because it was made up entirely of Puerto Rican enlisted men. During World War II
he served in units guarding military installations in the Caribbean
and later in the Allied
occupation of Germany
. Cartagena was discharged after the 65th Infantry Regiment returned to Puerto Rico.
Upon the outbreak of the Korean War, Cartagena reenlisted and entered the Army with the rank of Sergeant. He was assigned to Company C, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division and sent to Korea.
The men of the 65th, now attached to the Army's 3d Infantry Division, were among the first infantrymen to meet the enemy on the battlefields of Korea. After November, 1950, they fought daily against units of the Chinese People's Liberation Army
after the Chinese entered the war on the North Korean side. One of the hardships suffered by the Puerto Ricans was the lack of warm clothing during the cold and harsh winters.<ref... Read More