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Obama to Award Medal of Honor to 24 Army Veterans

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2014 – President Barack Obama will award 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry during a White House ceremony March 18.

These veterans will receive the Medal of Honor in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, according to a White House news release. Each of these soldiers’ bravery was previously recognized by award of the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military award. That award will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor in recognition of their gallantry, intrepidity and heroism above and beyond the call of duty.

In 2002, Congress, through the Defense Authorization Act, called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veteran war records from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, to ensure those deserving the Medal of Honor were not denied because of prejudice, according to the release. During the review, records of several soldiers of neither Jewish nor Hispanic descent were also found to display criteria worthy of the Medal of Honor. The 2002 Act was amended to allow these soldiers to be honored with the upgrade -- in addition to the Jewish and Hispanic American soldiers.

The President will award the Medal of Honor to:

-- Spc. 4 Santiago J. Erevia will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as radio telephone operator in Company C, 1st Battalion (Airmobile), 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) during search and clear mission near Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam.

-- Staff Sgt. Melvin Morris will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as commander of a strike force drawn from Company D, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Chi Lang, Republic of Vietnam, on September 17, 1969.

-- Sgt. First Class Jose Rodela will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as the company commander, Detachment B-36, Company A, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces during combat operations against an armed enemy in Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam, on September 1, 1969.

The President will posthumously award the Medal of Honor to the following individuals who distinguished themselves by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving during the Vietnam War:

-- Sgt. Candelario Garcia will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as an acting team leader for Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Lai Khe, Republic of Vietnam, on December 8, 1968.

-- Spc. 4 Leonard L. Alvarado will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as a rifleman with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) during combat operations against an armed enemy in Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam, on August 12, 1969.

-- Staff Sgt. Felix M. Conde-Falcon will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as an acting Platoon Leader in Company D, 1st Battalion, 505th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Ap Tan Hoa, Republic of Vietnam, on April 4, 1969.

-- Spc. 4 Ardie R. Copas will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as a Machinegunner in Company C, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy near Ph Romeas Hek, Cambodia, on May 12, 1970.

-- Spc. 4 Jesus S. Duran will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as an acting M-60 machine gunner in Company E, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on April 10, 1969.

The following individuals distinguished themselves by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving during the Korean War:

-- Cpl. Joe R. Baldonado will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as an acting machine gunner in 3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kangdong, Korea, on November 25, 1950.

-- Cpl. Victor H. Espinoza will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as an Acting Rifleman in Company A, 23d Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Chorwon, Korea, on August 1, 1952.

-- Sgt. Eduardo C. Gomez will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Tabu-dong, Korea, on September 3, 1950.

-- Pfc. Leonard M. Kravitz will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as an assistant machine gunner with Company M, 5th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Yangpyong, Korea, on March 6 and 7, 1951.

-- Master Sgt. Juan E. Negron will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as a member of Company L, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kalma-Eri, Korea, on April 28, 1951.

-- Master Sgt. Mike C. Pena will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as a member of Company F, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Waegwan, Korea, on September 4, 1950.

-- Pvt. Demensio Rivera will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as an automatic rifleman with 2nd Platoon, Company G, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Changyong-ni, Korea, on May 23, 1951.

-- Pvt. Miguel A. Vera will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as an automatic rifleman with Company F, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in Chorwon, Korea, on September 21, 1952.

-- Sgt. Jack Weinstein will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while leading 1st Platoon, Company G, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division in Kumsong, Korea, on October 19, 1951.

The following individuals distinguished themselves by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving during World War II:

-- Pvt. Pedro Cano will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving with Company C, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Schevenhutte, Germany, on December 3, 1944.

-- Pvt. Joe Gandara will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving with Company D, 2d Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Amfreville, France, on June 9, 1944.

-- Pvt. First Class Salvador J. Lara will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as the squad leader of a rifle squad with 2d Platoon, Company L, 180th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Aprilia, Italy, on May 27 and 28, 1944.

-- Sgt. William F. Leonard will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as a squad leader in Company C, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy near St. Die, France, on November 7, 1944.

-- Staff Sgt. Manuel V. Mendoza will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as a platoon sergeant with Company B, 350th Infantry, 88th Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy on Mt. Battaglia, Italy, on October 4, 1944.

-- Sgt. Alfred B. Nietzel will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as a section leader for Company H, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Heistern, Germany on November 18, 1944.

-- 1st Lieutenant Donald K. Schwab will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as the commander of Company E, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy near Lure, France, on September 17, 1944.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while:

-- engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;

-- engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force;

-- serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

 

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President Obama to Award Medal of Honor


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