The 296th Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard consisting mostly of Puerto Rican enlisted soldiers and officers. Today, only its 1st Battalion remains active; being allotted to the 92nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard. The 296th is composed by the first battalion of infantrymen that engaged in combat as a Puerto Rico National Guard unit, as the 65th Infantry Regiment was, at the time, a regular Army unit.
The 296th traces its history back to the Spanish colonization of the Americas as an infantry militia constituted on May 17, 1762 as part of the reorganization of the Milicias Disciplinadas (English: "Disciplined Militias") decreed by Spain. However, on February 12, 1870 the militia were reduced to en cadre until their disbandment in April 1898 after Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States.
Almost two decades after, on 1917 and at the brink of World War I, Puerto Ricans were granted American citizenship. Right after, the President of the Senate of Puerto Rico requested the United States Army to include Puerto Ricans on the draft. At the time, the United States Army was segregated, and, in order to assign more than 18,000 Puerto Ricans that enlisted or were drafted into the Army for the war effort, the Army created an infantry regiment and the Puerto Rico Voluntary Infantry. The regiment was merely a reconstitution of the disbanded Spanish-era militia as an infantry regiment assigned to the Puerto Rico National Guard on April 12, 1917. Two years later, this freshly created regiment was designated as the 1st Infantry Regiment on July 19, 1919. Several years later, somewhen between July 9 and September 13 of 1922, the Puerto Rico National Guard established a new battalion and called it the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment. It is this battalion that gives birth to the 296th as a few months later after being established it was renamed as the 1st Battalion, 296th Infantry Regiment (1-296) on December 26, 1922. A few weeks after, on January 23, 1923, the aforementioned 1st Infantry Regiment was renamed as the 295th Infantry Regiment. This series of events would establish a long parallel history between the 295th and the 296th infantry regiments.
On June 1, 1936 a set of confusing changes takes place. First, the 1st Battalion of the 295th Infantry Regiment (1-295) is split into two battalions in order to form the 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion of the 295th Infantry Regiment (1-295 & 2-295). However, these two battalions (1-295 & 2-295) become the 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion of the 296th Infantry Regiment (1-296 & 2-296) while simultaneously the pre-existing 1st Battalion of the 296th (1-296) becomes the 1st Battalion of the 295th Infantry Regiment (1-295).
Between the 18 and the 25 of August 1940, the regiment received its 3rd Battalion (3-296). After such establishment, on August 25, 1940, the 296th, together with the 295th, formed the new 92nd Infantry Brigade. A few years later, the Puerto Rico Voluntary Infantry —now called the 65th Infantry Regiment— was deployed to Europe in World War II while the 296th deployed to the Pacific somewhen after October 15, 1940 or July 24, 1942.
After WWII, the 296th simply served as the sister National Guard regiment of the 65th Infantry Regiment. With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, the 65th Infantry Regiment was ordered to Korea. While the 65th Infantry Regiment was on its way, the 296th was mobilized on September 14, 1952 so that it could provide replacements to its sister company deployed in Korea, like many other National Guards did.
The regiment then suffered a series of mobilizations, inactivations, and reorganizations that ultimately dissolved it as a regiment on May 1, 1964. The regiment was simply reorganized as two battalions of the 92nd Infantry Brigade on that date although they maintained their names without an administrative hierarchy as a regiment. Finally, on December 31, 1967 the battalions were reorganized as a single battalion of the 92nd Infantry Brigade. This brigade, in turn, was eventually reorganized as the 92nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (92nd MEB) of which the 1st Battalion, 296th Infantry Regiment (1-296) is still part of. The battalion, however, has been allocated at times to the 101st Troop Command when it is needed as a battalion somewhere else without the MEB being deployed with it.
Most recently, the 1st Battalion, 296th Infantry Regiment was deployed in 2002 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the Global War on Terrorism. It also deployed to the Iraq War while attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.Executive branch of the government of Puerto Rico & National Guard Bureau & United States Department of the Army
Puerto Rico National Guard & Army National Guard
Puerto Rico Army National Guard
92nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
1st Battalion, 296th Infantry Regiment