Aftermath: The Post World War I Years

The Puerto Rican Experience In The U.S. Military: A Century Of Unheralded Service

written by Dr. Harry Franqui-Rivera; Senior Digital Aide, Monique Aviles


Puerto Rican National Guard Crest

Creation of the Puerto Rico National Guard

The three regiments from Las Casas were reorganized in 1922 as part of the Army Reserve Corps. In 1919, Secretary of War Baker authorized Yager to organize an infantry regiment and a cavalry battalion, officially creating the Porto Rico National Guard. In 1923, the Corps was reorganized into the 295thInfantry Regiment, P.R.N.G. Responding both to the prestige that came from wearing a military uniform and to economic hardships, neither the National Guard nor the regular army outfits in Puerto Rico lacked volunteers to fill their ranks, and, in fact, there were waiting lists to join these units.[1]


Puerto Rico Regiment becomes the 65th Infantry

Upon their return to Puerto Rico in 1920, the Porto Rico Regiment’s name was changed to “65th Infantry, U.S. Army,” courtesy of the National Defense Act of 1920.


Sacrifice, Manhood, Freedom and Service

In an interview published on the weekly “Los Quijotes” on June 11th, 1927, Albizu Campos defended volunteering for military service during WWI and stated:

I have always believed, that our participation in the European War, could have been a great benefit for the people of Puerto Rico. The military organization of a people is necessary for its defense, and that is only attainable through the painful sacrifices imposed by a war. If 30 or 40 thousand Puerto Ricans had returned from France lamed, one-eyed, or mutilated in any other way, today there would be an organized resistance that would make the American Empire respect us. The European war offered us that splendid opportunity to organize our collective value. For Puerto Rico the armistice was premature, hence recruitment contributed to the demoralization of the people.[2]

Col. Winship inspects the 65th Infantry, 1936
Col. Winship inspects the 65th, 1936
PR National Guard Museum

The idea that service made “patria” and better men was widespread during the WWI era and would continue to capture the imagination of Puerto Ricans until the Korean War.

Continue to World War II


[1]José R. Nadal, Guardia Nacional, sucesora de las milicias puertorriqueñas (1962). 15ta. Asamblea 6ta. Sesión Legislativa Ordinaria Cámara de Representantes, R. de la C. 7097, 20 de Agosto de 2007, Presentada por las representantes Ruiz Calás y González Colón, Referida a la Comisión de Asuntos Internos, Resolución. (Knowlton Mixer, Porto Rico: History and Conditions, 1926).

[2]Marín Román, El caldero quemao, 519-520.

Photo caption: Puerto Rican National Guard Crest