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As a result of a Congressionally mandated review to ensure brave acts were not overlooked due to prejudice or discrimination, on March 18, 2014 President Obama upgraded Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor for 24 individuals—the "Valor 24"—for their actions in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.[1] Of the 24 Hispanic, Jewish, and African American recipients, three were still living at the time of the ceremony.[1]

Medal of Honor[edit | edit source]

The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.[2]

History of the Valor 24[edit | edit source]

Presentation ceremony[edit | edit source]

World War II[edit | edit source]

Photo Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Notes[3][4]
Pedro Cano portrait.jpg Cano, PedroPedro Cano Army Private Schevenhütte, Germany December 2, 1944 – December 3, 1944 Repeatedly risked his life destroying enemy machine gun positions using rockets and grenades, in support of his own and adjacent infantry company[5]
JoeGandaraMilitaryPortrait209px Gandara, JoeJoe Gandara Army Private Amfreville, France June 9, 1944 Advanced voluntarily and alone toward an enemy position and destroyed three hostile machine guns before being fatally wounded.[6]
SalvadorJLara243px.jpg Lara, Salvador J.Salvador J. Lara Army Staff Sergeant Aprilia, Italy May 27, 1944May 28, 1944 Aggressively led his rifle squad in neutralizing multiple enemy strongpoints and inflicting large numbers of casualties, and resumed the attack the next day despite receiving a severe leg wound.[7]
WilliamFLeonard243 Leonard, William F.William F. Leonard Army Staff Sergeant Near St. Die, France November 7, 1944 Led an assault continuously swept by enemy automatic fire, killing two snipers, and, despite bullets wounds to his back, destroyed two machine guns and captured a roadblock objective.[8]
ManuelVMendoza243.jpg Mendoza, Manuel V.Manuel V. Mendoza Army Master Sergeant Mt. Battaglia, Italy October 4, 1944 Single-handedly broke up a German counterattack.[9]
Nietzel, Alfred B.Alfred B. Nietzel Army Sergeant Heistern, Germany November 18, 1944 When an enemy assault threatened to overrun his unit's position, Nietzel covered for the retreating members of his squad, expending all his ammunition and holding his post until being killed. One of 24 soldiers who received their medals in 2014, after a study revealed discrimination that caused them to be overlooked.[10]
Donald K. Schwab.jpg Schwab, Donald K.Donald K. Schwab Army First Lieutenant Near Lure, Haute-Saône, France September 17, 1944 Under intense enemy fire, dismantled a strong German position and took a prisoner of war.[11]

Korean War[edit | edit source]

The Korean War was an escalation of border clashes between two rival Korean regimes (each of which was supported by external powers) with each Korean regime trying to topple the other through political and guerilla tactics. In a very narrow sense, some may refer to it as a civil war, though many other factors were at play.[12] After failing to strengthen their cause in the free elections held in South Korea during May 1950[13] and the refusal of South Korea to hold new elections per North Korean demands, the communist North Korean Army moved south on June 25, 1950 to attempt to reunite the Korean peninsula, which had been formally divided since 1948. The conflict was then expanded by the United States and the Soviet Union's involvement as part of the larger Cold War. The main hostilities were during the period from June 25, 1950 until the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.

Photo Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Notes[3][4]
JoeRBaldonado150.jpg Baldonado, Joe R.Joe R. Baldonado Army E-04Corporal Kangdong, Korea November 25, 1950 Sacrificed his life by remaining in an exposed machine gun position during an enemy attack; killed numerous enemy troops.[14]
VictorHEspinoza150.jpg Espinoza, Victor H.Victor H. Espinoza Army E-04Corporal Chorwon, Korea August 1, 1952 Single-handedly silenced a machine gun crew, discovered and destroyed covert enemy tunnel, wiped out two bunkers.[15]
EduardoCGomez243.jpg Gomez, Eduardo C.Eduardo C. Gomez Army Sergeant Tabu-dong, Korea September 3, 1950 Crawled thirty yards across an open rice field to single-handedly destroy an enemy tank[16]
PFC Lenny Kravitz.jpg Kravitz, Leonard M.Leonard M. Kravitz Army O-03Private First Class Yangpyong, Korea March 6, 1951 to March 7, 1951 Provided suppressive fire for his retreating unit after position had been overrun by the enemy[17]
Juan-negron-united-states-army-medal-of-honor.jpg Negrón, JuanJuan Negrón Army E-08Master Sergeant Kalma-Eri, Korea April 28, 1951 Held the most vulnerable position on his company’s position throughout the night, accurately hurling hand grenades at short range when hostile troops approached.[18]
MikeCPena243.jpg Pena, Mike C.Mike C. Pena Army E-08Master Sergeant Waegwan, Korea September 4, 1950 Covered his unit's retreat and single-handedly held off large enemy force overnight, until being killed the following morning.[19]
Demensio Rivera.jpg Rivera, DemensioDemensio Rivera Army E-02Private First Class Changyongni, Korea May 22, 1951 to May 23, 1951 An automatic rifleman, Rivera tenaciously held a forward position exposed to heavy fire; when his rifle became inoperative, Rivera used his pistol and grenades, and eventually fought hand-to-hand and forced back the enemy.[20]
Miguel-vera-united-states-army-medal-of-honor.jpg Vera, MiguelMiguel Vera Army E-01Private Chorwon, Korea September 21, 1952 Selflessly chose to remain in position during an enemy attack and cover friendly troops' withdrawal from part of "Old Baldy" hill.[21]
JackWeinstein243.jpg Weinstein, JackJack Weinstein Army E-05Sergeant Kumson, Korea October 19, 1951 Alone and unaided, held ground in the face of an enemy attack to permit his platoon to withdraw, even using enemy hand grenades to halt enemy advance.[22]

Vietnam War[edit | edit source]

The Vietnam War took place from 1955 to 1975. The war was fought between the Communist-supported Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States-supported Republic of Vietnam, beginning with the presence of a small number of US military advisors in 1955 and escalating into direct US involvement in a ground war in 1965. It concluded with the Fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975, defeating the United States foreign policy in Vietnam.[23]

During the Vietnam War, 248 Medals of Honor were received, 156 (62.9%) of them posthumously. Soldiers of the Army received the most with 161, followed by 57 to the Marines, 16 to the Navy and the remaining 14 to the Air Force.[24]

The first African American recipient of the war was Milton L. Olive, III who sacrificed himself to save others by smothering a grenade with his body.[25] Riley L. Pitts was killed after attacking an enemy force with rifle fire and grenades and was the first African American commissioned officer of the war to receive the medal.[26]

Photo Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Notes[3][4]
LeonardLAlvarado243.jpg Alvarado, Leonard L.Leonard L. Alvarado* Army Specialist Four Phước Long Province August 12, 1969 For disrupting an enemy raid and saving the lives of several comrades[27]
Felix-conde-falcon-united-states-army-medal-of-honor.jpg Conde-Falcon, Felix M.Felix M. Conde-Falcon* Army Staff Sergeant Ap Tan Hoa April 4, 1969 Killed while assaulting heavily fortified enemy bunkers[28]
ArdieRCopas243 Copas, Ardie R.Ardie R. Copas* Army Specialist Four Ph Romeas Hek, Cambodia May 12, 1970 Killed while holding off an enemy ambush while wounded, so his comrades could be evacuated[29]
JesusSDuran243.jpg Duran, Jesus S.Jesus S. Duran* Army Sergeant Ph Romeas Hek, Cambodia April 10, 1969 Saved wounded Americans on a search and clear operation[30]
SantiagoJErevia300.jpg Erevia, Santiago J.Santiago J. Erevia Army Specialist Four near Tam Kỳ May 1969 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.[31]
CandelarioGarcia243.jpg Garcia, CandelarioCandelario Garcia* Army Sergeant Lai Khe December 8, 1968 Destroyed two enemy machine gun nests while saving wounded comrades[32]
MelvinMorris300.jpg Morris, MelvinMelvin Morris Army Staff Sergeant near Chi Lăng September 17, 1969 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.[33]
JoseRodela300.jpg Rodela, JoseJose Rodela Army Master Sergeant Phuoc Long Province September 1, 1969 Repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to attend to the fallen and eliminate an enemy rocket position.[34]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Valor 24 / Medal of Honor / World War II Korean War Vietnam War". U.S. Army Combined Arms Center. March 18, 2014. Archived from the original on June 3, 2014. http://www.webcitation.org/6Q3W0ebRk. Retrieved June 3, 2014.  • List with basic details is at U.S. Army's List of Recipients.
  2. "A Brief History — The Medal of Honor". Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Department of Defense. August 8, 2006. http://www.defenselink.mil/faq/pis/med_of_honor.html. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Vergun, David (21 February 2014). "President announces 24 Soldiers to receive Medals of Honor". Army News Service. http://www.army.mil/article/118872/President_announces_24_Soldiers_to_receive_Medals_of_Honor/?from=hp_hottopic. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "President Obama to Award Medal of Honor". The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. 21 February 2014. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/21/president-obama-award-medal-honor. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  5. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Private Pedro Cano. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/cano/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  6. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Private Joe Gandara. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/gandara/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  7. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Staff Sergeant Salvador J. Lara. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/lara/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  8. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Staff Sergeant William F Leonard. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/leonard/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  9. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Master Sergeant Manuel F. Mendoza. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/mendoza/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  10. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Sergeant Alfred B. Nietzel. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/nietzel/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  11. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". First Lieutenant Donald K. Schwab. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/schwab/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  12. Richard W. Stewart, ed. "Ch. 8 :The Korean War, 1950–1953". American Military History, Volume 2(revised 2005). CMH Pub 30-22. http://www.history.army.mil/books/AMH-V2/AMH%20V2/chapter8.htm. Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  13. Hermes, Jr., Walter (1966). Truce Tent and Fighting Front. United States Army Center of Military History. http://www.history.army.mil/books/korea/truce/fm.htm. 
  14. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Corporal Joe R. Baldonado. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/baldonado/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  15. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Sergeant Victor H. Espinoza. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/espinoza/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  16. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Sergeant First Class Eduardo Corral Gomez. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/gomez/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  17. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Private First Class Leonard M. Kravitz. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/kravitz/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  18. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Master Sergeant Juan E. Negron. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/negron/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  19. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Master Sergeant Mike C. Pena. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/pena/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  20. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Private First Class Demensio Rivera. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/rivera/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  21. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Private Miguel A. Vera. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/vera/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  22. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Sergeant Jack Weinstein. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/weinstein/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  23. "Vietnam War". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2010-12-14. http://www.webcitation.org/5uyUCoYke. Retrieved April 25, 2017. "Meanwhile, the United States, its military demoralized and its civilian electorate deeply divided, began a process of coming to terms with defeat in its longest and most controversial war" 
  24. "Medal of Honor statistics". Medal of Honor citations archive. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-12-14. http://www.webcitation.org/5uyUFEgJQ. Retrieved June 29, 2009. 
  25. Murphy, 1987, pp. 36–38
  26. Murphy, 1987, p. 97
  27. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Specialist 4 Leonard L. Alvarado. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/alvarado/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  28. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Staff Sergeant Felix M. Conde-Falcon. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/conde-falcon/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  29. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Sergeant Ardie R. Copas. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/copas/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  30. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Sergeant Jesus S. Duran. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/duran/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  31. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Sergeant Santiago J. Erevia. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/erevia/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  32. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Sergeant Candelario Garcia. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/garcia/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  33. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Sergeant First Class Melvin Morris. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/morris/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  34. "Valor 24: Medal of Honor". Master Sergeant Jose Rodela. United States Army. http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/rodela/?f=recipients&l=name. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Murphy, Edward F. (July 1987). Vietnam Medal of Honor Heroes. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-33890-7. 
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