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An Unexpected Gift
by U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Luis Orengo - January 22, 2014

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"Mere Chance" by David G. Bancroft

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The Puerto Rico National Guard received an unexpected gift from an unexpected source.

A captured Nazi banner, symbol of oppression, suffering and slavery, was given to the Puerto Rico National Guard by retired Col. Arnaldo Claudio, Interagency program director of the joint staff in Washington D.C., in a ceremony held at the PRNG-Joint Forces Headquarters in San Juan. That same flag, that used to mark a higher headquarters, bonded nations all over the word in the fight for justice and freedom against the most heartless and bloodiest tyranny in human record.

The Puerto Rico National Guard receives a captured Nazi flag from retired Col. Arnaldo Claudio, Interagency program director of the joint staff in Washington D.C., in a ceremony held at the PRNG-Joint Forces Headquarters in San Juan on December 19, 2013. From left to right, the Adjutant General of Puerto Rico, AF Brig. Gen. Juan J. Medina Lamela, Spec. Wesley Ortiz, member of A Company 1 Battalion 65th Infantry Reg., Julio Burgos Santiago, veteran of the 65th Infantry Regiment and retired Col. Arnaldo Claudio. More than 65,000 Puerto Ricans participated in all Armed Forces branches during World War II. (Courtesy Photo)
The Puerto Rico National Guard receives a captured Nazi flag from retired Col. Arnaldo Claudio, Interagency program director of the joint staff in Washington D.C., in a ceremony held at the PRNG-Joint Forces Headquarters in San Juan on December 19, 2013. From left to right, the Adjutant General of Puerto Rico, AF Brig. Gen. Juan J. Medina Lamela, Spec. Wesley Ortiz, member of A Company 1 Battalion 65th Infantry Reg., Julio Burgos Santiago, veteran of the 65th Infantry Regiment and retired Col. Arnaldo Claudio. More than 65,000 Puerto Ricans participated in all Armed Forces branches during World War II. (Courtesy Photo)

As a Puerto Rican, I'm proud of our heritage and our commitment to the defense of democracy and freedom all over the world,” said Claudio. “To bring this flag to my island in recognition of my countrymen's deeds during those trying times is a great honor.”

Even today, the consequences of World War II still affect nations around the world.

“This was an era full of uncertainty that left a deep scar in human history,” said the Adjutant General of Puerto Rico, Brig. Gen. Juan J. Medina Lamela. “It was also a moment where gallant men faced the odds and an enemy that conquered half of the world.”

The flag's journey from Germany to Puerto Rico took more than 68 years in the making.

The Nazi flag was captured by units of the 20th Armor Division during the fighting around Munich, Germany in the closing weeks of World War II.

Robert Cross, veteran of the 20th Armor Division kept the flag until his passing. Then his widow, Mrs. Joyce Cross turned it in to the US Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Penn. Mr. Michael Perry, Executive Director of the USAHEC and his staff started to look for a unit to take care of the flag and displayed it in honor of the thousands of World War II Veterans.

The Puerto Rico National Guard was selected for the honors.

The Adjutant General of Puerto Rico, Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Juan J. Medina Lamela, gives a special gift to Julio Burgos Santiago, veteran of the 65th Infantry Regiment during the ceremony to present a captured Nazi flag to the Puerto Rican National Guard in San Juan on December 19, 2013. Observing the moment are Sec. Wesley Ortiz, member of A Company 1 Battalion 65th Infantry Regiment and grandson of Mr. Santiago and retired Col. Arnaldo Claudio. More than 65,000 Puerto Ricans participated in all Armed Forces branches during World War II. (Courtesy Photo)
The Adjutant General of Puerto Rico, Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Juan J. Medina Lamela, gives a special gift to Julio Burgos Santiago, veteran of the 65th Infantry Regiment during the ceremony to present a captured Nazi flag to the Puerto Rican National Guard in San Juan on December 19, 2013. Observing the moment are Sec. Wesley Ortiz, member of A Company 1 Battalion 65th Infantry Regiment and grandson of Mr. Santiago and retired Col. Arnaldo Claudio. (Courtesy Photo)

“I can say with a great sense of pride that more than 65,000 Puerto Ricans served in all branches of the United States Armed Forces during this war,” said Medina Lamela. “More than 1,200 men of our own 65th Infantry Regiment, fought during the war in Northern Africa, Southern France and Central Europe, while more than 200 Puerto Rican women joined the Women Army Corps to support the nation's war effort.”

The flag will be encased and prepared for permanent display at the PRNG Museum in San Juan.

By U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Luis Orengo
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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