• September 28, 2016

Obama to award Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans

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Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014 12:00 am

WASHINGTON — Seeking to correct potential acts of bias spanning three wars, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans following a congressionally mandated review to ensure that eligible recipients were not bypassed due to prejudice.

The unusual mass ceremony, scheduled for March 18, will honor veterans, most of Hispanic or Jewish heritage, who already had been recognized with the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest military award. Only three of the recipients are living.

“I never really did worry about decorations,” said one of those being honored, Melvin Morris of Cocoa, Fla., who was commended for courageous actions while a staff sergeant during combat operations on Sept. 17, 1969, in the vicinity of Chi Lang, South Vietnam.

Morris, who is black, said it never occurred to him his race might have prevented him from receiving the Medal of Honor. He said it was a huge surprise when the Army contacted him in May about the review and arranged for a call from Obama.

“I fell to my knees. I was shocked,” Morris said. “President Obama said he was sorry this didn’t happen before. He said this should have been done 44 years ago.”

The other living recipients are Spc. 4 Santiago J. Erevia of San Antonio, cited for courage during a search and clear mission near Tam Ky, South Vietnam, on May 21, 1969; and Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rodela of San Antonio, cited for courage during combat operations in Phuoc Long province, South Vietnam, on Sept. 1, 1969.

The Army conducted the review under a directive from Congress in the 2002 National Defense Authorization Act. The law required that the record of each Jewish American and Hispanic American veteran who received a Service Cross during or after World War II be reviewed for possible upgrade to the Medal of Honor.

The Pentagon said the Army reviewed the cases of the 6,505 recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars and found an eligible pool of 600 soldiers who may have been Jewish or Hispanic. The Army also worked with the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, the Jewish War Veterans of the USA and the American GI Forum, the largest Hispanic-American veterans group, to pinpoint potential medal recipients.

Of the 24, eight fought in the Vietnam War, nine in the Korean War and seven in World War II.

The posthumous recipients are:

—Sgt. Candelario Garcia, born in Corsicana, Texas, for courageous actions during combat operations in Lai Khe, South Vietnam, on Dec. 8, 1968.

— Spc. 4 Leonard L. Alvarado, born in Bakersfield, Calif., died during combat operations in Phuoc Long province, South Vietnam, on Aug. 12, 1969.

— Staff Sgt. Felix M. Conde-Falcon, born in Juncos, Puerto Rico, killed during combat operations in Ap Tan Hoa, South Vietnam, on April 4, 1969.

— Spc. 4 Ardie R. Copas of Fort Pierce, Fla. killed during combat operations near Ph Romeas Hek, Cambodia, on May 12, 1970.

— Spc. 4 Jesus S. Duran of San Bernardino, Calif., for courageous actions during combat operations in South Vietnam on April 10, 1969.

— Cpl. Joe R. Baldonado, born in Colorado, killed during combat operations in Kangdong, North Korea, on Nov. 25, 1950.

— Cpl. Victor H. Espinoza of El Paso, Texas, for courageous actions during combat operations in Chorwon, North Korea, on Aug. 1, 1952.

— Sgt. Eduardo C. Gomez, born in Los Angeles, for courageous actions during combat operations in Tabu-dong, South Korea, on Sept. 3, 1950.

— Pfc. Leonard M. Kravitz, born in New York City, killed during combat operations in Yangpyong, South Korea, on March 6-7, 1951.

— Master Sgt. Juan E. Negron of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, for courageous actions during combat operations in Kalma-Eri, North Korea, on April 28, 1951.

— Master Sgt. Mike C. Pena, born in Newgulf, Texas, killed in action during combat operations in Waegwan, South Korea, on Sept. 4, 1950.

— Pvt. Demensio Rivera, born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, for courageous actions during combat operations in Changyong-ni, South Korea, on May 23, 1951.

— Pvt. Miguel A. Vera, born in Puerto Rico, killed during combat operations in Chorwon, North Korea, on Sept. 21, 1952.

— Sgt. Jack Weinstein of Saint Francis, Kan. for courageous actions during combat operations in Kumsong, South Korea, on Oct. 19, 1951.

— Pvt. Pedro Cano, born in La Morita, Mexico, for courageous actions during combat operations in Schevenhutte, Germany, on Dec. 3, 1944.

— Pvt. Joe Gandara, born in Santa Monica, Calif., for courageous actions during combat operations in Amfreville, France, on June 9, 1944.

— Pfc. Salvador J. Lara, of Riverside, Calif., for courageous actions during combat operations in Aprilia, Italy, May 27-28, 1944.

— Sgt. William F. Leonard, of Lockport, N.J., for courageous actions during combat operations near St. Die, France, on Nov. 7, 1944.

— Staff Sgt. Manuel V. Mendoza, born in Miami, Ariz., for courageous actions during combat operations on Mount Battaglia, Italy, on Oct. 4, 1944.

— Sgt. Alfred B. Nietzel, born in New York City, for courageous actions during combat operations in Heistern, Germany, on Nov. 18, 1944.

— 1st Lt. Donald K. Schwab, born Hooper, Neb., for courageous actions during combat operations near Lure, France, on Sept. 17, 1944.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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1 comment:

  • Eliza posted at 10:34 am on Sat, Feb 22, 2014.

    Eliza Posts: 1093

    @ Seeking to correct - potential acts of bias - spanning three wars, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014, to 24 Army veterans-------


    I have a problem with some of the words above which were stated in representation of the president during the writing of the article

    Doesn't Potential have the meaning of, a Possibility ?
    How can it be deemed for certain then, that race was the reason these awards weren't received, or a bias act?

    If the 24 men in the article did actions that were to receive the MOH ,maybe there was another reason then color that it didn't happen when it should have

    Why couldn't it have been stated in another way instead of trying to make it A Racist sounding Act.

    But anything will be done I have been able to see, hoping to get votes and cause problems among the people.

    The, article, written in representation of the president, seems to want to make the reader think, no persons other then white Americans have ever received any notoriety of an act of Heroism during war time.
    I think that is the way it was meant to be perceived.

    Again, Anything to cause a problem between Americans and anything for a vote.

    Below will show we have had Many Black Americans and Hispanic Americans earn our nations highest military honors, during some very harsh wars and living standards. Some even back to the early cavalry
    No matter which race or color a person is ,if they have fought for the country,any Honor they would have won should be given.

    Below are just a very few of the men who have been willing to sacrifice themselves for the safety of others in the name of their country while under their flag during all wars the nation has known..
    -------------------
    Black Americans from the past who have received MOH's

    Emanuel Stance
    A black American who fought in the Indian Wars against the Apache .

    Along with
    Recipients of the Medal of Honor
    Ninth U. S. Cavalry
    Sergeant Thomas Boyne Sergeant John Denny Corporal Clinton Greaves Sergeant Henry Johnson Sergeant George Jordan Sergeant Emanuel Stance Private Augustus Walley Sergeant Moses Williams Corporal William O. Wilson Sergeant Brent Woods
    Tenth U. S. Cavalry
    Sergeant William McBryar
    Twenty-fourth U. S. Infantry
    Sergeant Benjamin Brown Corporal Isaiah Mays

    Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts
    Private Pompey Factor
    Private Adam Paine
    Private Isaac Payne
    Sergeant John Ward
    Sergeant Thomas Shaw,
    awarded the Medal of Honor for “extraordinary courage under fire” in preventing the Apaches from surrounding the command.

    Vietnam War 20+ Black recipients
    which include the below.

    James Anderson, Jr.
    Webster Anderson
    Eugene Ashley, Jr.
    John E. Warren, Jr.
    William Maud Bryant
    Lawrence Joel

    Hispanic Recipients MOH during different wars
    some of the names of many, included are,

    Rodolfo P. Hernandez
    Alejandro R. Ruiz
    Fernando Luis García
    Roy P. Benavidez
    Ralph E. Dias
    Miguel Keith

     

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