Korean War Legacy Project

Jose E. Colon


Jose E. Colon was born and raised in Puerto Rico and enlisted in the United States Army in 1937. He served in the Pacific theater during WWII and was transferred home to Puerto Rico before the atomic bombs were dropped in Japan. In Puerto Rico, he worked as a driver, then as a clerk at headquarters and a recruitment officer in the United States Army Reserves. At the onset of the Korean War, he called fourteen hundred U.S. Army Reservists to report to duty in the 65th Infantry Regiment 43rd Battalion. He served as Master Sergeant for the 65th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Borinqueneers, the U.S. military’s only all-Hispanic unit. The 65th engaged on the front lines with North Korean and Chinese forces at the 38th Parallel. They endured discrimination, limited replacements, and dangerous living conditions. In the end, dozens of soldiers in the 65th Infantry Regiment were court-martialed for refusing orders. After serving for twenty-four years in the military, he earned the Congressional Gold Medal.

Video Clips

From Driving to Typing

Jose E. Colon remembers his duty as a driver for the company commander after six months of service. He discusses attending night school during his eight months driving the officer to learn typing and shorthand. He recalls the time when the commander complimented his driving and offered assistance. He recounts how he immediately informed the commander about his typing and shorthand skills which led to his new assignment as a clerk at headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Home front,Pride

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Recruiting Efforts

Jose E. Colon reflects on his three years of service in the United States Army Reserves. He shares his main duty was to reenlist WWII veterans who had recently returned home. He notes that when the Korean War broke out in 1950, he called fourteen hundred U.S. Army Reservists to report to duty in the 65th Infantry Regiment 43rd Battalion. He adds he continued his recruiting efforts in Puerto Rico while the 65th Regiment was in Korea. He discusses the lack of replacements for the 65th Regiment and his reassignment to the 7th Regiment upon his arrival in Korea.

Tags: Civilians,Front lines,Home front,Pride

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The 65th Regiment’s Efforts and Consequences

Jose E. Colon provides an account of the 65th Infantry Regiment's movement to the 38th Parallel during the Korean War. He praises the regiment's tenacity in pushing back the Chinese, allowing United States Marines to evacuate the area. He notes, however, the poor living conditions endured by the 65th Regiment and the court-martials that followed their refusal to push forward.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Letters,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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Poor and Dangerous Living Conditions

Jose E. Colon presents an overview of their living conditions in Korea. He describes the South Koreans’ primitive farming and sanitation methods, which led to an infestation of snakes and rats in the unit's living quarters. He explains how the rats carried insects, causing some soldiers to develop a fever by penetrating their veins. He discusses the low quality and limited supply of food and shares his unit had only C-rations to eat while on the front lines.

Tags: Civilians,Food,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Poverty,South Koreans

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Integration Without Integration

Jose Colon reflects on his experiences as the military went through integration. He explains how even though the 65th was considered integrated, the only English speakers were the officers.

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


I:          Today is the 11th of April 2017.  My name is Andrew Ortiz.  I’m interviewing Mr. Jose Colon who served in the Army for 24 years.  Mr. Colon served during World War II and the Korean War under the 65th Infantry Regiment.  He earned the Bronze Star Medal and reached the rank of Master Sergeant.  I’m interviewing Mr. Colon as part of the University of Central Florida’s Community Veteran’s History Project.  This interview is being conducted



in Casselberry, Florida.  Mr. Colon, where were you born?

J:         Orocovis, Puerto Rico, up in the mountains.  Orocovis. You know where the Orocovis is?  Orocovis is in the center of the Island. If you go to Orocovis, right when you walk out of the church, it’s a sign there, that is the center of the island.  But that’s my hometown.



I:          Did you grow up there?
J:         When I lived in Puerto Rico, yes, all the time.  I still have family there.

I:          Did you have any brothers or sisters growing up?
J:         Up, I have one sister left.  We were eight, uh, five brothers and three sisters, and me, number five.  And uh, I have only one sister left.  She lives in New York.



I:          What did your parents do for a living?
J:         Agriculture.  We had a farm.  And uh, way back at that time, it was fun.  Uh, we produced everything we needed except uh, salt, sugar, more or less.


But everything else, we had on the farm.

I:          What was your childhood like?
J:         Because you were born in the country and you didn’t know anything else, it was great.  Uh, when I was seven, my aunt had a really uh,



work on getting school in the area.  And she did.  So uh, I was going to school at seven.  I say seven years because the children had to walk.  And because they had to walk, that’s when they said seven years old, uh, before they could go to school.



But I had the school about half a mile, and I had no problems with that.

I:          Did any of your family serve in the military?
J:         Uh, my two brothers.  One uh, served in the Second World War, and he was serving in, uh, in some artillery.  If you go to San Juan to uh, [INAUDIBLE] Beach Club,



you still can find the, uh, remains of whatever they had in there for artillery.  And the other brother, he was in the 65th.  He went to Europe.  I did not.

I:          What kind of education did you have before joining the military?

J:         That’s a good one.



And I was thinking about that a few minutes ago. At that time, uh, [INAUDIBLE] it was so good.  It was making a comparison with eighth grade with two years of high school.  And I actually had when I went to the Army two years high school.  I finished at night in San Juan.



I:          What influenced you to join the military?
J:         I got a cousin in the 65th.  One Sunday, he showed up at our home and asked my brother if he wanted to join the 65th because there was a vacancy.  At that time, it was by vacancies.  And uh, my brother said no.


So, he asked me how old I was, I said 18.  He says you wanna go?  I said yes.  That was it.

I:          How did your family react to your enlisting?
|J:         Oh, there were no problems.  It was, that was, my brothers were working already.  One of my sisters got married.  And uh, whoever was left



just on the farm as usual.  It’s one less, but I used to go there every weekend.

I:          Where did you go for basic training?
J:         That’s a good one.  I was enlisted only one.  So, for only one person, I had one Sergeant and one PFC who were handling the basic training.



[INAUDIBLE] Uh, have you been in [INAUDIBLE] Well, you better go there.  [INAUDIBLE]

Is divided into, it’s like a second floor, uh, on the ramp in the back.  So, we used to go there.  And that’s where I learned how to uh, march and what we did there.  And I did, and I’m happy that I did with him because I learned so much.



Including one thing that they had in the 65th.  We were always able to give a hand to anybody who needed it.

I:          So, you trained by yourself?

J:         I truly, almost.  It was almost.  I had PFC, uh, Rivera and the Sergeant.  And it was every day.



It was more or less they told me what to do, and then I did it.  It was almost, yeah, self-training.

I:          What was basic training like?
J:         Basic training is, at the present time, was a lot of work.  It happened to be, they have many men, 25 or 30 or more.  In my case, it was only one.  So, I just did training, basically when they wanted.

I:          Did you get along with your drill Sergeant?

J:         Yes sir.

I:          Are there any particular moments that stood out



During your training?
J:         Yes.  We, Company H, was a heavy weapons company.  And uh, I learned how to work with a machine gun.  But I didn’t have the opportunity to fire the machine gun until this one,



one specific date every year was so that we were going for, you know, fighting the machine gun.  And uh, because I was new and I was a recruit, they didn’t want me to fire first.  They wanted those who knew how to do it



to be first because there was also an increase in the salary of $5 a month.  And believe it or not, my salary was $21.  So, $21.  And if you made it good in the machine gun, made expert, then you automatically got an additional $5.



So, that’s why they didn’t want the recruits, you know, to fire first. I insisted.  And uh, out of 200, I made 128.  So, I got my promotion.  And I got three days leave, I mean, pass.  And I went home because one thing I didn’t like from the machine guns was



to clean the machine guns, you know.  To clean the machine was a lot of work.  So, when I got back from home, everything was clean.

I:          Tell me about graduation.
J:         Uh, that was a night.  That was a night.  I actually I couldn’t make it because I was doing something else.



But uh, I also was going to school to learn how to type and shorthand.

I:          When you were going to school to type, was that uh, Advanced training?

J:         No, that’s something that I wanted to.  There was a school in San Juan.



It was at night also.  And uh, one of the things I was a driver. I was driving, uh, for the Company when I was six months in the Company.  And then I was going to school every night also to learn how to shorthand and typing.  And that uh,



when the, until the [INAUDIBLEL] War Dept. was organized in San Juan, and the company was ready to go to Europe.  They had asked for one driver to the 65th.  They didn’t have anybody else, and they sent me.  So, when the time came for the Company to move, they transferred me to the Headquarters.



And from there, in about eight months, I ended driving for the [INAUDIBLE] General.  He’s a person that didn’t talk much to the driver. He just sat there.  Well, we had trips.  Also, we were working on the base of [INAUDIBLE].  That was where he was later [INAUDIBLE] Air Force Base.



And I used to drive for him.  And we did reach 2 ½ hours, 2 ½ hours back.  And uh, he never talked much.  He only said thank you, driver, thank you, driver.  But about the 8th trip, he said thank you, driver.   It was a good trip.



If there’s anything that I can do to you, that I can do for you anytime, let me know.  And I didn’t lose one second.  I said sir, I know shorthand.  I know typing, and I’m working now, I’m going now for bookkeeping.  And he said well, that’s great.  Next day at 10:00, I was called in.  And I was transferred



from driving one car to an office.  And that’s when I started typing and [INAUDIBLE] in the office of the Headquarters.

I:          And where were you during this time?

J:         I was driving.  I was a driver for officers and Headquarters.

I:          Where was the Headquarters?
J:         In San Juan.
I:          San Juan.

J:         That was the additional Headquarters that was called the Headquarters of District of Puerto Rico.



And that’s the one that had been working uh.  Then later I was in Field Command because they covered all the islands in the Caribbean including Cuba.  Cuba had one base in addition to, uh, in Montego Bay.


They had one base in Cuba that was handled by the U.S. Army because it was U.S. Army and Army Air Corps.  So, we had both.

I:          So, after you became a driver, what was your title?
J:         Driver.

I:          After that.



J:         After that?  I started as clerk and was there for about almost a year.  And that’s when I got some commercials, you know, because first as a driver, I was still a private.  But the minute I got into the office, and I still have some uh, some certificates.



Sorry that I didn’t get out for you, that, what they had and I believe they still have them, is what they called the specialties.  So, you could be a private first-class specialist. Five or four or three, uh.  Number two was equivalent to a sergeant first-class.



So, I was already private first-class, specialist second-class when I was transferred to Losey Field as a sergeant.  When I got there, what they did was give me the grade of sergeant first-class because I was, the money was equivalent.  And then I became the sergeant major of the base.



And that was October 30, 1943.  That was the date of the birth of my daughter.  Exactly the same day that she was born, I was transferred.

I:          So, in 1943, what was your rank?
J:         Nineteen forty-three, it was private first-class, specialist second-class.



And then when I got transferred, what they did was promote me to sergeant first-class.  I was equivalent in money, in pay.

I:          Were you still a clerk as a sergeant first-class? Or did you have another duty?

J:         No, because I was a sergeant major in Losey Field.



I wouldn’t say sergeant major of the base.  I was sergeant major of the 65th.  This impression that the sergeant major, what he does is paperwork.  The sergeant major and the commanding officer work together for the benefit of the troops.



In other words, if you happen to be the sergeant major, if you had to be the commanding officer, I’m not working for the commanding officer. I am working with the commanding officer for the benefit of the troops.  Now for Losey Field, that what it was called, Post, as a command base.  And uh, we were responsible for the base.  It’s like a city.



And when I got to Korea, I was first sent to the 65th.  I was sent to the 7th as the first sergeant major.  But in about three weeks, I was transferred to the 65th.  It was in the position of sergeant major.  And it’s the same uh,



It’s the same work.  I mean, I work with the commanding officer.  Commanding officers get up in the morning and go so they fight in line.  The person in charge is the sergeant major.

I:          So, how long were you in charge of Losey Field?

J:         Losey Field, I was there in 1945.  The day that my son was born, I was transferred.



I don’t know why that.  I was transferred to the Pacific.  And uh, I went as far as Mineral Wells in Texas on uh, Camp Waters.



Now it’s a park.  But before, it was an Army base.  And that was huge.  It was.  So, I was there, I had with me about 100 I was in charge of.  And uh, we were at a hill there for a while.



We were supposed to be waiting for transportation.  But I guess transportation was available.  And I believe we had been held because they’re thinking already of the atomic bomb.  When President Truman dropped the bomb, I was returned to Puerto Rico. It was, there was no need for.  So, three of us were regular Army went to the Depot.  The others went to the Pacific.



And then I was assigned to an Army base.  The uh, the assignment was to Jamaica Base Command  So, we had, the Army Air Corps, I had been, in Losey Field there had been an Army Air Corps base.



And we closed the air base.  Everything of the Air Corps was transferred to the other base.  And then when they returned from the States, from Mineral Wells, that’s where we were, I was assigned to Jamaica Base Command.  And Jamaica had also



an Army base and an Army Air Corps because they’re two commands.  And then we closed them.  In 1946, we closed both.  That’s when the, they said World War I was over.  And the, what they did was,



that’s when they divided the Army from the Army Air Corps.  And the Army Air Corps was called the Air Force.  That was in 1946. That’s the second air base that I had to call, to close.  Closed two bases.  Returned to San Juan and uh, I was assigned to the vault.



I’ll tell you what the vault is.  It’s a vault like a bank.  And that’s where they keep all, take the classified information.  So, I was there.  It’s a bit like a bank.  You just walk into the vault, and everything is locked in the vault.



And if anybody needs information, especially officers, you just keep it in the file, and you stand there until they finish reading.  But he cannot make any notes, or he cannot do anything.  And then put it back.  That was my job until about over a year.



I was reassigned to the Office of the Army Reserves, U.S. Army Reserves.  And that’s when the Second World War, they had to reduce, once war is over, so this many people they want to be sending home.  And probably



had nothing to do with them.  So, the idea was to release whoever wants to go back in the Reserves.  And that was my job for about three years.  When uh, the Korean War started, it was on the 24th of June 1950.  I wasn’t home.



I guess it was a Sunday.  And I received a phone call from my boss, and he said get ready.  I’ll pick you up.  So, we called uh, 1,400 in one week.  That was the personnel men that was used for the 65th Infantry Regiment 43rd Battalion.



And uh, I stayed there, I was attached to 65th, took off for Korea.  And then I was attached to the 65th.  You’ve been in the armed forces?

I:          No.

J:         Okay.  Uh, attached to the 65th, the 65th are going to Korea, and I happened to be attached.  But I stayed in Puerto Rico because I’m recruiting.



So, I, the Regiment is in Korea.  And three of our main office, we happened to be attached to the 65th.  So, we’re working for the 65th, but we’re working for Puerto Rico, uh.  And uh, I went as a recruiter.  And I’m gonna show you one of the others



that uh, that I have.  I still have one.  Going into the different towns in Puerto Rico, you know.  So uh, I was there until finally I was transferred to Korea.  And I was supposed to be assigned to the 65th.  And that’s one of the programs



that went with the 65th in Korea.  I have noticed that after the 65th had the p[problem with the uh, court martials, there had been comments about allegations of not assigning



the people, the Spanish speaking, who could speak English to the 65th.  But they do it in a way that it looks like they, somebody in the 65th did let you know that that was happening when the reality was



that they were doing it.  And the, I have another, when I got to Korea, I was not assigned to the 65th.  Neither did Lupe that went with me.  We were assigned to the 7th.  So, that allegation that the 65th uh, were, I mean the replacements



Were not assigned to the 65th.  This is true.  It is true.  I did, I was assigned to the 65th.  But I believe I was the only one out of the 100, more of those 800, that went with me.  So, there’s so many things that happened to be considered when we talk about the 65th.



But it’s so much.  So, I did, I went to the 65th.  I assumed the position of sergeant major.  There’s so many things that weren’t in the paper about rice and beans and a mustache and other things, you know.  I was present because you do have a mustache.  I will not tell you.  I was present the day that the commanding officer was talking to the [INAUDIBLE]



about the mustache because we were there.  We were in a tent.  Five of us.  The Regiment, 6th Regiment, myself, clerk-typist, a sergeant that’s handling the casualties, uh, and a file clerk.  How many?  Six.



Maybe. So, I um, I’d been living in there.  Facing there behind me is the [INAUDIBLE] office, and the other way the commanding officer comes here.  He’s talking about the mustache.  And the [INAUDIBLE] says I’m not about the shave my mustache.  He says you don’t have to shave your mustache.  You trim your mustache.



That’s the orders.  You know what?  If you read whatever has been uh, written about the mustache, it’s entirely different what has been said.  The reality was if you have a mustache that is aqui grande and you happen to be up in the fighting line,



and you are up there, and you happen to be there six weeks without a bath, eating whatever you can find, don’t you believe that the bugs are gonna get in the mustache.  When you’re drinking coffee with milk, it’s a little bit obvious in the hair.  That was thinking for it.  Hygiene.



Just, trim it, and then let it go.  Let it grow again.  But for practical purpose.  So, if anybody mentions the mustache, you tell them that was [INAUDIBLE]  There’s no problem with it. He had it like you.  There’s not no sense, no.  It’s okay.  Leave it there.  It’s the other one like Geraldo.



Uh, and they had people, they had soldiers that uh, on the front lines.   One of those were on the Cathosito.  He told me that he was six weeks



that he couldn’t get a bath.  The same clothing, same shoes, the same socks.  Six weeks.  If you happen to be up there in the middle of nowhere in the jungle, uh.  People cannot imagine how it is.  And they. In the 65th, that happened.



But also happened let me see how I’m gonna put it.  I was in Puerto Rico.  And part of the 285th from the Regiment was gonna be called in to our duty to supposedly uh,



replace uh, the replacement for the 65th.  The commanding officer of the 285th was not called to active duty.  But he was working with the governor.  At the same time, General Marshall, remember Marshall, the one that



uh, was in Europe, and he came up with the uh, Administration, whatever it took, to help all the countries in Europe.  He was in politics because he was the uh, Secretary of State.  And with him was General Collins.  That was his Chief of Staff of the Army.  And this uh,



this officer went to the governor and talked to him.  He said hi, I’d like to be with my boys.  So, it was simple.  Tell Marshall.  Marshall told Collins, and Collins called him up and sent him to Korea.  That was Cordero Caulrita.  Cordero Caulrita, before he left,



we, I was in the Reserves and we were so close.  And one day we met him I’d say Colonel Nay, you’re going to Korea. And he said the first step to the governorship.  I’ll never forget that.  It was the first time do you hear this?  The first step to the governorship.  He had in his mind



I’m gonna go to Korea.  I’m gonna be the ha-ha-hee-hee-ho-ho.  And then when he finishes as a governor, I’m gonna be the governor.  And uh, he went to Korea.  And immediately he got the Silver Star.  But what happened?  If you have



Heard about Kelly Hill, you have heard about Kelly Hill.  Okay.  Kelly Hill, can I go back to Colonel Harris?

I:          Yes.

J:         Okay.  Let’s go right to Colonel Harris.  Colonel Harris was the commanding officer of the 65th Infantry in Puerto Rico.



When the 65th was ordered to Korea, it was Colonel Harris.  Harris liked rum with Coca Cola.  And that’s what he ordered whenever he went to the bar.



And you know what?  He said that the Borinqueneers were called Rum and Coca Cola.  That’s not true.  That’s not true.  But he went to Korea because the 65th was a full fledged uh, unit with all the units like



medical service company and mortar uh, tank.  All those together were part of the 65th.  He started in the South, and he was pushing fast towards the North because he was fighting with what.  He was fighting with the Koreans and South Koreans.  And many of the South Koreans



and North, they just changed their clothing, and they just stayed in South Korea.  They’re not, until finally he went so fast that he went all the way up to um, the 38th Parallel.  I have a book.  Let me see.



[OFF CAMERA] This one is the only book that tells the truth.  This one.  It’s in Spanish.  And this [INAUDIBLE] went on the first



group to Korea.  And uh, [INAUDIBLE]. When uh, and that was the park. [INAUDIBLE] And this book, it tells the truth.  And that’s exactly what happened.



So, they went all the way up to the 38th Parallel.  And they were supposed to go across.  And that’s when the Chinese joined the Koreans.  And that’s when the Borinqueneers not having ammunition, fixed my unit.



Because the Koreans didn’t have ammunition either.  I mean, the Chines, and they did.  Soon there goes artillery, you know, to the other side.  That’s when this thing with MacArthur and the President.  But MacArthur was right.  He never had anybody like the Borinqueneers.



He found the truth.  And he said I wish I had people like that during my life.  So, if you go back to the 65th, the 65th there up at the, because the 65th was the one that was holding the Chinese for the Marines to get out.



Everybody got out.  And the Borinqueneers were.  And the ones that pushed the Chinese across the river.  And then of course, they continued.  And that’s where they stayed because they didn’t go to the South or to the North.  They just stayed there and continued to be there.  I uh,



I don’t have much respect for Colonel Harris.  This one is the book.  It’s in Spanish.  How’s your Spanish?   Como see, como sa?  How about you?  No.  Nothing?  Oh.  Uh, So I uh,



I went to Korea.  I mean, let’s go back to Cordero [INAUDIBLE]  What happens with Cordero [INAUDIBLE]? Cordero [INAUDIBLE] is pushing to the limit.  There was one letter uh, that, Cordero [INAUDIBLE] sent to the General, have you seen it?  Okay.



Uh, the movie that lady from New York, the uh, oh whatever.  I’ll tell you in a few minutes.  Uh, the letter from Cordero [INAUDIBLE] has a copy.  I mean, it is on the, on the paperwork from the, I mean,



joined to the situation of the movie.  And he pushed the Borinqueneers to the limit.  To the limit, to the limit.  When you have your shoes, I mean the boots wet, and you have three pairs of socks wet,



And you’re feeling that you were, have a fever, but you have to continue.  I mean, that’s beyond whatever you can think about the military.  He was pushing, he was pushing.  Finally, Dan [INAUDIBLE] said okay.  We are not going to uh, to go forward anymore.



And they didn’t.  So, that’s when came the uh, the court martials.  Cordero [INAUDIBLE] was relieved from his command, relieved from active duty and sent back home.  And the general, because the general was convinced, he was also relieved from his command and sent home.



Uh, and the Borinqueneers court martialed.  I was in Puerto Rico, uh, visiting my niece.  And uh, she had to work to the hospital, and then in the hospital she fell, and she had to stay.



And so, I went over and stayed with her.  I noticed an attorney, Nick Suvera.  They were talking.  And uh, I, finally I got a place next to them.  And I don’t know how the 65th came up.  And I asked her about the court martials.



I said if you had been the attorney for those boys.  She said if I had been the attorney, I will sit on the floor, and I wouldn’t’ move until they get the General and the Colonel back as witnesses.  They were not witnesses. Did you know?



No. During the court martials.  No.  I don’t know.  Maybe they have a sworn statement or something, but they were not. None of [INAUDIBLE] two. That it wasn’t too good for the 65th.  And that’s when



there was one, there was one officer that was the executive of his circle first 3rd battalion, one which ad.  He was the son of General Eisenhower.



Have you read about that?  No?  Eisenhower had already been selected to be President.  But his son was in the 65th.  He was the executive officer for one of the battalions.



And he was with, and the General was asking him for information that he had him like uh, how you call it.  And he was informing the General of every little thing that happened in the battalion, or in the 65th.



General Smythe.  That was in uh, September, and then I was in Puerto Rico.  October, Dagave was assigned to the 65th.  November, Jose Colon was assigned a sergeant



major, uh November, in November, Eisenhower became President. And his son that was the one, you know, giving the information, looking for information for the General, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel



And assigned to the G3 position in Division.  G3 position is Operations.  And we’re talking about January and February.  In March, we received the news of the integration.



In April, never did trucks going out full and coming back full.  All the Spanish speaking were moved out.  The Regiment had about 3,000.  Three thousand out. And 3.000 in, Emglish speaking.  One of the few that was kept was me.



I was kept a sergeant major until November.  Uh, May training, June uh, they were up in the front lines.  That’s all the training in Cavazos.  I have, I believe you have heard of



General Cavazos, uh.  And that’s [HOLDS PICTURE]  This is the day before the signature of the Armistice.  Uh, it uh, was quiet.



No artillery, no nothing.  The 27th, the Armistice was signed, quiet until 5:00 P.M.  Five o’clock P.M., somebody from our artillery fired one shot.


This was completely destroyed.  And this was the Headquarters of the 65th.  Uh, down here some place was the uh, medics.  And they had the first rounds of, you know, artillery.



And some were uh, injured.  The locals were working them.  One round came direct where the doctors stand.  No working.  Nobody says anything because nobody was there.  I mean, Puerto Ricans were not there.  But it was like hell.  I was there.




I:          So, after the Armistice was signed, there were still people dying and artillery shells going off.

J:         No.  That was the day that it was signed.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Okay.  The day that it was signed, one officer, American officer

I:          Um hm.

J:         fired one shot.

I:          Okay.

J:         Okay.  And then there was, because the Armistice



Was signed to be effective at 11:00 A.M..  But they had until 11:00 P.M. to suspend uh, how you call it, the uh, fighting.  But there was silence.  It was at 5:00 on the 27th after this ended, I had one.


The Chinese, you know.  The other side of the hill.  So uh, this was totally destroyed.  You could hear it.  The 27th in the morning, we had a Korean that did other things for us, you know.  He knew, uh, English and interpreted.



And I asked him if he could dig a hole.  And people started joking about it and says well.  He dug that hole, about two.  We’re going four.  I wanted to obey that.  Until



everything was over.  And that, and this, see this building here?  That’s a kitchen.  That kitchen, it was wiped out.  So, you can imagine the cooks and people that happened to be eating there, they were dead.



That was the last thing of the battle.

I:          Where was that located?
J:         This was in Kumhwa.  Kumhwa.  We were there for a while.  And then we uh, for a short while.


We were returned to the original place of the 65th usually uh, what you call it, uh, when the 65th went for a break, uh, we moved to the same place.  We moved to the same place.  There was one engineer Borinqueneer that came up with the idea



of showers.  When I was there and became sergeant major, I asked him.  I says but nobody asked could we have them.  We can go to the river. No, no, no, no.  We want showers.  And he designed, he found the materials.  He designed,



there was three or four pipes hooked up with one pipe here.  And this pipe was hooked up to a pump on a truck.  But this pipe had holes under.  So, there’s a truck with holes into the river.



There’s a pump inside the truck and a heater.  So, they pumped the water through that pump, through the heater into the showers that don’t spray on it, you know.  They’d start the pump.  And uh, there was water for the showers there for everyone.



But before they get there, there wasn’t.  If you wanted to go to the river.  There’s so many things.  Rats and snakes.  Did you read about that?  No?  Okay.


That’s when, that’s when uh, that’s when the sergeant major overrides seniority.



We don’t talk about those things because you’re happy to be talking about the Chinese, how many got hurt and uh.  But in Korea, we owe the respect to the lady.  You know what they used for fertilizer.  In Korea,



they used the human fertilizer.  They dig a hole, put the latrine.  And when it’s full, all they had to do was remove that uh, what you call it, uh, wooden, and put it some other place.  Ad they got one there, put water



shake it, and then set on the farms.  But you know how many years I guess, years and years and years, hundreds of years I guess, they’ve been doing the same.  So, that’s where we happened to be standing or sitting.



That, that’s a good place.  But the flat has a bug that has the whatever you call it, that gets to your veins.  They do not live with the blood.


They live with the vein. They start destroying the vein.  And then the blood starts coming up.  They call it Hemorrhagic Fever.  That was in Korea.  Somebody show up in my office and [TOUCHES FACE] a little bit. I said hey, MASH.



There was a Lieutenant one day.  And he said I’m sick.  You’re just a sergeant. I’m a lieutenant. I said you know what?  You’re gonna do whatever I say.  You’re gonna jump on that ship, and the driver that’s gonna take you to MASH.  And you don’t drink any more water.  And the driver took him to MASH and disappeared.



About 10 years later, I found that man in San Juan.  One day, he’s walking and I’m working, we just come up.  He says you know what?  I’ll give you a heart because you saved my life.  The first thing that MASH did was cut off the liquids.  No more fluids for three or four days.  You have been [INAUDIBLE[, and you cannot have water.



And you cannot have anything until that vein uh, repairs because usually, you know, they replace themselves.  Those things we had in Korea.  People don’t say a word.  But my office, I guess when I tell you about my office,



What do you think?  The next place with a chair, right?  A tent, and they, underground.  You’re gonna put a floor because of snakes come under.  And you cannot put a floor because you cannot move that floor all the time.  And we had to move



sometimes twice a week you move.  So, we cannot kill the rat.  See the rats, how are you.  Couldn’t do it.  And the snakes.  All those things anybody can hear in Korea up in the mountains.



But those things with not many things to eat.  In fact, that is there, for Kelly Hill only had C-rations.  Okay, you’re seeing C-rations, okay.  But you’re gonna eat C-rations three times a day for a month?



And I had one picture that I took on uh, the first of January 1953.  It’s Father [INAUDIBLE].  You see the hood of a jeep.  That’s the out door.



And you have about 100 Borinqueneers kneeling in the snow.  That picture, I gave it to someone.  And that someone didn’t want to publish it.  It’s not being casually.  It’s not being whatever.  It’s just to see 100 Borinqueneers,



talking to God of whatever.  Or just they’re gonna be there.  The last match is gonna be that one.  And then somebody says well, you cannot publish them.  I have the pictures.  Uh, I have originals.  I have two.



The first of January 1953, Charwon Valley.  Charwon Valley.  It was Death Valley.  And many things.  Uh, for Christmas, the one officer from the tank company



gave me a call.  He says come over.  Maybe we’ll have something to eat.  So, I did with Sergeant Rivera and the driver.  He had a tent.  Anybody could see the tent.  The enemy, anybody.  It was there.



And he was there with the first sergeant and uh, the company clerk.  They had the, the Mayor from San Juan [INAUDIBLE], you have heard that name?  [INAUDIBLE]?  She used to send                         truck loads of things, you know, canned stuff.



And uh, that day we had chicken.  So uh, Hector who was one of our officers, about 12, he was gonna talk to us, you know.  And he started talking.  But the first thing is the family.



That happens to be on the other side of the world.  And there we all are in the middle of nowhere with a mountain there.  If anybody wants to fire, okay, fire.  Uh, for that particular night, and when he started talking about family, well, you know, [INAUDIBLE] here and there.



But it was, it was the 65th.  So, if you’re not a member of the 65th, it would have taken months.  [INAUDIBLE] The little things make the big things.  Am I right, sir?



I:          How long were you in Korea for?
J:         In Korea, I was 410 days.

I:          After the Armistice was signed, what was your assignment or duty?
J:         You’re never gonna believe it.  I, I had an infant son, Martin on the 22nd of December.



At night, around 2:00 in the morning at uh, Fort Dugetta.  Fort Dugetta had the um, how you call it, the organization that was taking care of all those who came in and giving transportation or whatever.  So, there is sergeant uh, whatever, [INAUDIBLE] I guess



on top of that.  And he was giving instructions.  Take it easy.  You’re gonna get orders.  Some of you get the orders.  Buses are gonna be leaving here.  And it’s gonna be leaving, and it’s gonna stop in your hometown.  And then he said Jose Colon, and that’s me.



Front and center.  You, I went there, and he said you can go.  I said what you mean I can go?  I’m giving, I work here.  He says if you wanna do that, it’s okay by me.  But you’ll have to come back here.  Now if you wait for about an hour, then you get rid of the uniforms, you know.



[INAUDIBLE]  You don’t have to?  I said why?  He says because you have an assignment already.  Of all those people there, one got an assignment.  It was me.  So, I waited



until 5:00 in the morning.  Rivera was there.  He happened to go working with me in uh, in Korean.  And he said come on.  I know the fellow that you want, mister.  So, we went there.  I was arriving. Open the door, and he took me home.   Uh, I was one week visiting family, you know.



And uh, I decided to go to Headquarters to find out.  Exactly the same desk that I had left.

I:          How long were you there for?

J:         I was there for a while.  I uh, I have no other things in the Army, you know.



And I had another mini assignment.  And then I was told that I was gonna be going to Viet Nam, no, Viet Nam I guess.  The one next to Korea, whatever you call it.  I said not me.  I had 24 years of service.  I had 20.  I had 20 years of service.



And I wouldn’t go.  I retired.  You know what {INAUDIBLE] and what’s the problem?  I had been in the Army since I was 18.  Twenty years later, 21, I am facing off retirement of what I wanna do.



I don’t know anybody.  I don’t know anything other thing than, Army was punishment uh.  Well, I said uh uh.  So, I went back to uh, San Juan.  And I was at the hospital waiting for a physical exam.



And across me like you here is the lieutenant colonel.  And he looked at me and he said I know you.  I said yes sir.  When you came to [Inaudible] the very first night, I was on duty at Headquarters, you show up and you’re looking for transportation to the airport.


And he said, and you can get transportation and I said yes.  I worked at seven, and the airport is on the way because I was going home.  So, I dropped him at the airport.  So, I told him many stories, you know.  He said no, you’re not gonna retire.  He said I am G1.  You know what that is?



Okay.  The organization like the Army.  And this organization is from the Department all the way down.  So, a uh, command like the Puerto Rico



They have the commanding general.  And they have what they call G1, G2, G3, G4 and G5.  G1 is Personnel.  G2 Intelligence.  G3 uh, Operations.  G4 Supplies, G5 what you would make.



And it was all the way down.  And I have to take a little bit of water.  And if you want water, uh, I have uh,  [ OFF CAMERA] So, he was a G1.  He says no, you’re not gonna happen.  He says when you finish,



Go to see me.  Well, when I finished, I went over.  I had been in Headquarters, you know, half of my life.  And uh, I thought about the situation, and I said no.  He called the Provost Marshall, and he said I have a qualified person in here, and they need a space for him.


I says I don’t have the space.  So, he went over to meet me.  He said I don’t have the space.  But we had uh, what was called a waiver.  What it was, if you happen to have 20 years of service,



you cannot become seated to go overseas because you have time already to retire.  So, he said, you will have so and so who qualifies for that. I gave you that so and so, uh.  How you call it, uh, it takes time.  And you and you take Jose.



I says, okay.  So, I went to work on a project, the Finance Office Project.  Finance.  I was in Headquarters Company, attached to the military police to work with finance.  With experience.  They had,



They were having problems with the uh, allotments.  They were having problems with the allotments, uh.  If you’re in the military and you have a father and a mother, and you’d like to help, you can,



You know, you can have some funds for those persons.  But they were too many people playing that, you know, that they weren’t in the Army.  So, we, we, we uh, I was working on that.  I was looking, getting cases that went on to be my work.



One particular one.  Uh, when I got to Korea, the uh, there was a guy every month that came over to my office for those who were returning back home.



And uh, all I had to do was check make sure, checking records and, you know, and sent them.  One of them, one sergeant, he got out and he said my dad is gonna have surgery, one of his legs.  Could I, he said,



in a week.  He said do you think I could get home?  In Korea, it’s not that simple.  But I had this sergeant major in Division, give him a call.  He said send him up here.  So, he got home.  And I didn’t hear out of the person anymore for years.



So, then they happened to go to check that, you know, that case for finance.  He’s talking about [INAUDIBLE].  And this little girl at the Army entrance, I asked her, and she said that he is my grampa.  It’s bad.  Can I see him?  Yes.



I go in and I introduce myself, you know.  I’m in civilian clothes.  I said I’m Colon.  I, and he spoke right there.  He says I knew it.  I knew that you were gonna come over to see me.  You sent my son from Korea.



What you think?  That man, how that happened, don’t ask me.  And then he showed me, he said there he is in the picture.  About three years later.  What is you want about a Borinqueneer.



We could be talking for hours and hours and hours and hours.  And uh, after integration.  Okay.  Integration, get your clothes, take off, and a truck load comes in.  If you’re the company commander



of a company and you had 100 people.  And then they ask you for five, what you gonna do?  Are you gonna send the best five that you have?  No.  You’re gonna send the five that you prefer not to have them.



But that’s what you get from the 65th.  Four thousand.  There’s supposed to be, there’s supposed to be 80%, 80 to 20.  It was not.  It was 90 to 10.



So, there was no integration.  Then 100%, I mean 10% Spanish speaking and 80+ because we have to deduct the officers.  And the officers were English speaking.  So, it was not the integration.


And there’s so many stories.  I mean, I was reading the, when you left me the biography of uh, Eisenhower.  And he said that War was won.  That was there, and the general.  But his father,



a five-star general, [INAUDIBLE] anything you know, about court martial and whatever on the 65th because he was gonna stop it.  And the only way to stop it is the other way, get him out.  Get him out and then



we talk about integration and segregation and everything because I guess it continues.  There’s no question about it.

I:          What year was that?

J:         Hm?
I:          What year was that?

J:         Year?  Nineteen fifty-three.  Uh, Eisenhower became the President



On January 20.  His son was already the G3 of the Division.  And by February, we got the news about the integration.  So, it was a matter of



when you, I uh, I told the Adjutant, I was joking, you know, and I says when you’re, I’m ready to go.  He said you know what?  He’s not going anyplace, you know.  But I had a job, and I did my job regardless of you know,



But you could see how it was.  I got the five I received to replace the others.  One was an attorney. He finished college.  He was called by Selective Service.  And uh,



he ended in the 65th.  He didn’t know anything about it.  But he did it all.  So, we had the, how you call it, the whatever, it’s a book.



It covers the uh, the military law.  I gave it to him, and I says you’re gonna read this as many times as you can.  And whenever I get a court martial, I’m gonna give it to you.  And you’re gonna process it, and you’re gonna take it all the way to the officer, and that’s what you’re gonna be doing.



Because she didn’t know anything else.  There was another one who had been a counselor at Walter Reed Hospital.  And they sent them to an infantry battalion. I mean an infantry regiment.  What are you gonna do with him?  So, the, the few that I’d gotten, not too many,



could work, you know.  But I figured what the hell.

I:          Going back, you mentioned that you were into financing.

J:         Uh huh.

I:          Um, did you continue the rest of your service?

J:         No.  I was there for, let me see.



After that, I went back to Headquarters.  Went from Headquarters to Officers Division.

I:          What did you do there?
J:         Uh, you process everything that should go to your officers since, I was recruiting and uh,



let me see if I can find one of my orders, okay?
I:          Um hm.

J:         This is the order.  Uh, it’s a special order from uh,



One sixty-seven and the Division which assigns, this is my group, which assigns almost all of them to the seventh.  And there is one thing that I hate.  But anyway, it’s there.  How the Army was at that time, okay.



And it says uh, you can read it from there.  The, what they given in here is, for example, this is uh, okay.



In the military, you do have uh, what they called the MOS, Military uh, Operation Specialty, a military something.  It’s what you do.  If you happen to be in, uh, like I was a sergeant major, I had a number, 502.



Five O Two was a sergeant major.  Whatever you, 502 was a sergeant major.  And then you have all those in here.  But this one thing here, there’s one thing here that also I don’t like.  It says following enlisted men unless otherwise indicated,



MOS 1745 unless otherwise indicated.  Uh, location unless otherwise indicated.  Seven years unless otherwise indicated.  Uh, and they continue.  And they include race.



In other words, it’s Caucasian under unless otherwise indicated.  But there is one in here indicated.  See it?  So, that’s the way the Army was at that time.  Not only the Army, the Air Forces.  But the United States.



Now only they, well.  But at that time, they had everything on everyone.  That I don’t like.  Anyway, this is, remember when we were talking about Colonel Harris, how much I love him.



If you look at Colonel Harris/ book, he says that he uh, that uh, 1,400 were called to active duty.  That uh, 1,400, 400 were Selected Service.



And that he could have called 50,000 in one week if he was quick enough.  He and the General sent a letter to Jose Colon, I mean, to my boss, on the boss to me saying thank you for calling 1,400 to active duty.



See what happens when people start writing books.  In order to, in order to what, give themselves a little bit of importance, they mess up the rest of the history because history is history.



But, do you have another book I have there.  The books that have been written personal from the 65th, they only talk about themselves.  And they may have a page, two or three pages on the 65th.  And you can, except this one that I showed you.  That fellow has about



This one uh, one chap there.  It’s about five uh, pages of the uh, the Korean War, how he got there and everything else.  But this is part of it.  And this is the order.  When I got to Korea, I was assigned to the 7th.



Uh, I may have, where is that?  That’s me.  That’s my family.  That’s my wife.  She passed away



  1. And that’s me

I:          Um hm.

J:         You don’t like those pictures.  Don’t show anybody.  Uh, that’s my daughter.  This is in Korea.  When you went to Korea, just go to the uh, replacement company they call it.



And uh, we were there for about two days.  Two days I went to Division because I was assigned to the 7th.  But I was assigned to Division.  I was looking for



I was looking for

I:          Unfortunately, we have run out of time.  But we will reschedule another interview with you.

J:         Okay.
I:          Um, on behalf of the UCF Community and myself, I would like to thank you and your time and your service, Mr. Colon.  We will be in touch with a copy of the interview when it’s ready.

J:         I’d like that.