Featured: The Congressional Gold Medal, which is one of the nation’s highest civilian honors, will be bestowed to Korean War veteran Antonio “Tony” Muñiz of Falfurrias, who has deep ties to Edinburg, announced Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. Canales will present the Congressional Gold Medal during a public ceremony on Monday, May 30 – Memorial Day – in the Brooks County Courthouse, 100 E. Miller Street in Falfurrias, beginning at 2 p.m.
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Antonio “Tony” Muñiz was with the 3rd Recon Company, which was attached to the 65th Infantry Regiment – known as The Borinqueneers – during the Korean War. The 65th Infantry Regiment is the first Hispanic Unit and the sole Unit from the Korean War to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. The regiment is also credited with the last battalion-sized bayonet assault in army history.
Korean War veteran Antonio “Tony” Muñiz, with deep ties to Edinburg, to receive Congressional Gold Medal to be presented by Rep. Terry Canales during Memorial Day ceremony in Falfurrias
By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Korean War veteran Antonio “Tony” Muñiz of Falfurrias, a Hispanic native son and current resident of that community with deep ties to Edinburg, will be bestowed one of the nation’s highest civilian honors during a Memorial Day ceremony to be held at the Brooks County Courthouse, said Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg.
Canales will present the Congressional Gold Medal during a public ceremony on Monday, May 30 – Memorial Day – in the Brooks County Courthouse, 100 E. Miller Street in Falfurrias, beginning at 2 p.m.
Canales and Brooks County Judge Imelda Barrera are hosting the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony on behalf of the retired and former Army PFC Muñiz.
Retiring U.S. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, whose 15th Congressional District includes Brooks County, also is scheduled to attend the event, which will include a reception.
Mr. Muñiz served as an Army Combat Medic with the 3rd Recon Company, which was attached to the 65th Infantry Regiment – known as The Borinqueneers – during the Korean War.
The 65th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed The Borinqueneers from the original Taíno name of the island (Borinquen), is a Puerto Rican regiment of the United States Army. The regiment’s motto is Honor et Fidelitas, Latin for Honor and Fidelity.
The 65th Infantry Regiment (Borinqueneers) is the first Hispanic Unit and the sole Unit from the Korean War to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. The regiment is also credited with the last battalion-sized bayonet assault in Army history.
“Every U.S. veteran who serves our nation is deserving of our great respect and deep appreciation because they keep all of us safe throughout the world,” said Canales. “In the case of Mr. Antonio “Tony” Muñiz, we are honored to be able to join his loved ones on Memorial Day 2016 – Monday, May 30 – and be able to share in this momentous ceremony praising him, here at home in deep South Texas, for his heroism and patriotism.”
Canales added: “We are proud that one of those heroes, Mr. Antonio Muñiz, still lives to receive this medal himself.”
TWO DAUGHTERS, ONE SON LIVE IN HIDALGO COUNTY
Mr. Muñiz’ connections to Edinburg and the Valley include two daughters – Mrs. Marla Cavazos, who serves as Principal of Anne L. Magee Elementary in Edinburg, and Mrs. Melinda López, a registered radiology technician and college instructor in McAllen. Both women and their families have separate residences in Edinburg.
He also has a son, Mr. Carlos A. Muñiz, a retired math teacher, who resides in McAllen.
All of Mr. Antonio Muñiz’ grandchildren are Edinburg school alumni or current students. They are: Kristina Candice Cavazos, Óscar Cavazos, III, and Alyssa López, who graduated from Edinburg high schools with Honors, and Laura Jean López and Jennifer López, who attend Vela High School and are also in the Top Ten of their classes. Mr. Muñiz has always taught them to appreciate their freedom and their education.
Canales said he would make sure that a biography about Mr. Muñiz, written by Mrs. Cavazos, would be read to the audience during the ceremony.
That biography follows:
Mr. Muñiz was born and raised in Falfurrias, Texas.
He was known then as PFC Antonio I. Muñiz, but was also a much valued Army Combat Medic.
He went to Boot Camp in Ft. Hood and then continued to Ft. Sam Houston to be trained as a Combat Army Medic in 1951.
Upon his return to Ft. Hood, his military unit was ordered to go to Korea in late December 1951.
He was in heavy combat in the Korean War in 1952.
Mr. Muñiz was in the 3rd Recon Company, which was attached to the 65th Infantry Regiment.
They became one tough Unit.
They would go on to change and be written forever in history.
This 65th Recon Regiment that he was with would enter into enemy territory in the midst of the most heated war where ambush was imminent.
For many, it was a suicide mission.
His story and that of those who served with him have been published in various military magazines.
He was honorably discharged in 1953, but continued to serve in the Reserves for an additional 3 years, until his discharge in 1956.
HIGHEST CIVILIAN HONOR BESTOWED BY CONGRESS
The Congressional Gold Medal is given to a Unit that has proven itself to go over and beyond as did the brave men of the 65th Infantry Division.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor that the United States Congress can bestow.
On April 13, 2016, 50 serving members from Puerto Rico joined only 200 surviving members from across the United States to receive such a medal in Washington D.C.
Mr. Muñiz is one of these few men who are still living and commanded to receive this medal.
As per Congress, they are being recognized for their pioneering military service, devotion to duty, and many acts of valor in the face of adversity.
As an Army Combat Medic, Mr. Muñiz saved many lives and brought back many men to their families that would have otherwise been left out in the battlefield and rice paddies of a horrific Korean War.
Mr. Muñiz’ patriotism continued even after his return to his beloved hometown of Falfurrias.
He proudly continued to assist fellow Veterans as the Brooks County Veterans’ Officer from 1990-2004.
He only retired due to his glaucoma that hindered his sight.
Even today, many veterans seek his assistance from home.
“COURAGE DOES NOT KNOW COLOR: DECENCY DOES NOT PICK SIDES”
The Congressional Gold Medal was presented to the 65th Infantry Regiment during a formal ceremony hosted by U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, on April 13, 2016.
However, Mr. Muñiz chose to receive his Congressional Gold Medal in his hometown of Falfurrias with his community and among his friends and family.
In awarding of this medal to the men, Ryan said “the story of the 65th Regiment is full of heroics.”
The Borinqueneers “showed us time and again that, courage does not know color; decency does not pick sides,” said Ryan. “These men did not fight to preserve the status quo; they fought to make their country better. And they succeeded.”
Although President Harry Truman issued an executive order in 1948 ensuring equality in the armed services, this policy was not yet fully realized by the start of the Korean War. As a result, African American, Hispanic and Puerto Rican soldiers served in segregated units.
More than 200 Borinqueneers and their family members attended the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony, which was held in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, including Sergeant Major José Colón and Colonel Manuel Siverio, Sr.
In accepting the Congressional Gold Medal, Colonel Siverio said the medal is a “well-deserved tribute to the brave men who fought many hard battles.” He added, the Borinqueneers’ “devotion to duty and many acts of valor against the enemy demonstrated their skills and their loyalty to the United States.”
It is written in history that back then, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of U.S. and United Nations forces in Korea, agreed that “the 65th had the best damn soldiers he had ever seen.”
He added, “They are writing a brilliant record of achievement in battle, and I am proud indeed to have them in this command. I wish that we might have many more like them.”
President Obama signed bills passed by the House and Senate to honor the legacy of the 65th with the award of the Congressional Gold Medal.
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County. HD 4o includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr, San Carlos and Weslaco. He may be reached at his House District Office in Edinburg at (956) 383-0860 or at the Capitol at (512) 463-0426.