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Puerto Rico

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General Hartle and Puerto Rico

In August 1939, Hartle was promoted to Colonel and served as Executive Officer and later Commanding Officer of the 65th Infantry Regiment, stationed at Camp Buchanan in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In October 1940, Hartle was promoted to Brigadier General and assumed Command of the Mobile Forces of Puerto Rico.

The history of Fort Buchanan and the United States Army dates back to the Spanish American War. In October 1898, the last Spanish unit left Puerto Rico and the Department of Puerto Rico was established. Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898. In 1903, the “Porto Rico Regiment,” under the command of Colonel James A. Buchanan was formed. Camp Miles, a 300 acres tract of land located 6 miles south of San Juan, was renamed Camp Buchanan in 1923. In May 1940, Camp Buchanan was designated as Fort Buchanan and expanded to 1514 acres and eventually 4500 acres.

In the 1930’s, Camp Buchanan was used for maneuvers training and a shooting range by the Army and National Guard. It was also a Citizen Military Training Camp. During World War II, Fort Buchanan housed a supply depot, ammunition storage areas and an extensive railroad network connecting it to San Juan Bay. It also processed local troops through its replacement center. Puerto Rican soldiers deployed for World War II and later the Korea War from the Fort.

The 65th Infantry Regiment was created in 1899 by the U.S. Congress as a segregated Latino unit of primarily Puerto Ricans with most officers from the continental U.S. It went on to serve with distinction in three wars: World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. The unit was nicknamed the “Borinquen,” from the Taino Indian word meaning “land of the brave lord.” Until recently, the soldiers of the 65th Infantry Regiment who were called with honor, “Borinqueneers,” often had their contribution and sacrifices unnoticed.

During the time that General Hartle was in command of the 65th Infantry Regiment and Mobile Forces, the mission was to build-up American and Puerto Rican forces and prepare them to defend the Caribbean and eastern coast of the United States from any Axis aggression.

The collection at WCFL includes Hartle’s correspondence concerning Puerto Rico’s defenses in the years immediately prior to the United States' entry into World War II.

The personal correspondence from Fort Buchanan in San Juan, Puerto Rico, relates to Hartle’s assignment as commander of the mobile forces of Puerto Rico from 1939–1941. During this time, Hartle was training American and Puerto Rican troops and strengthening defenses in Puerto Rico in response to the German war threat to the Caribbean and United States. The website includes Hartle’s communications with San Juan’s City Manager and Chairman of the "Black-out Committee", Fernando J. Geigel, concerning the implementation of a "Black-out Drill," in San Juan during September 1940.

History of Fort Buchanan
The Borinqueneers


The map is from the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.
Washington, D.C. : El Survey ; [San Juan] : Distribuido por el Gobierno de Puerto Rico, Departamento del Interior, [1952]

United States. Army, Biography; World War, 1939-1945, United States; Hartle, Russell P.

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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