President awards 24 Medals of Honor

 
« Previous story
Next story »
 
President awards 24 Medals of Honor

Apologies once again for the slow posting, I was attending the Medal of Honor ceremony in Washington DC.  Here is the article on it, and the video which my awesome videographer pieced together over the last 2 days.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama – in his role as commander-in-chief – awarded 24 Medals of Honor to U.S. Army veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Three of the recipients were on hand to receive their medals, while family members represented the remaining 21 who received the highest medal for valor posthumously.

“It was truly an honor to witness the presentation of 24 medals of honor to the three heroic men and the families of the ones that have passed,” said American Legion National Commander Daniel Delllinger who was on hand for the historic ceremony. “As President Obama stated, it took too long to recognize the heroism of these men. But justice has prevailed, and the honor due them has been achieved through the recognition given by our country today.”

The awards came as a result of a review called for by the The National Defense Authorization Act of 2002. This review was for awards from 1941 through the end of Vietnam that had been awarded to veterans of Jewish or Hispanic heritage, with an eye towards finding any that might have been tainted by prejudice. This act was later amended to include African Americans and others when worthy citations for lower awards were discovered.

“This is going to be a long ceremony,” noted the president in his opening remarks of the 100-minute ceremony. “We’re going to read all 24 citations, because every one is a story of bravery that should be told.”

Those stories included that of First Lt. Donald K. Schwab of Hooper, Neb., who after World War II could be seen working as a farmer – and later a postal carrier – in his Midwest town. He was active in his church and community, and enjoyed playing softball and basketball. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 86.

But this idyllic life story belies his incredible heroism of on Sept. 17, 1944. Outside the town of Lure, France, Schwab’s unit came under intense fire from woodline machine gun emplacements. Repulsed with heavy losses twice, Schwab ran from man to man checking casualties. And then, according to the Distinguished Service Cross that was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Schwab “rallied his decimated force for a third charge on the hostile strong-point, worked his way to within 50 yards of the Germans and ordered his men to ‘hit the dirt.’ While automatic weapons fire blazed around him, he rushed forward alone, firing his carbine at the German foxholes, straight for the key enemy machine pistol nest which had spark-plugged German resistance and caused heavy casualties among his men. Spotlighted through the mist and rain by enemy flares, he reached the German emplacement. Ripping off the shelter-half cover of the hostile firing pit, he clubbed the German gunner on the head with his carbine butt and dragged him back, through a wall of fire, to friendly lines.”

Schwab’s award was one of seven awards from World War II to be upgraded. The families of Pvt. Pedro Cano, Pvt. Joe Gandara, Staff Sgt. Salvadore Lara, Master Sgt. Manuel Mendoza and Sgt. Alfred Nietzel were on hand to receive the medals on behalf of their fallen relative.

Another story was that of Pfc. Leonard Kravitz, who received his Medal of Honor for his actions on March 6-7, 1951.  According to the citation, Kravitz was in the 24th Infantry Division fighting near Yangpyong, Korea, when his unit was attacked.

When the machine-gunner was wounded in the initial phase of action, Kravitz immediately seized the weapon and poured devastating fire into the ranks of the onrushing assailants. The enemy effected and exploited a breach on the left flank, rendering the friendly positions untenable. Upon order to withdraw, Kravitz voluntarily remained to provide protective fire for the retiring elements. Traversing the gun to the left to cover the infiltrating enemy and ignoring the pleadings of his comrades to fall back, he fearlessly maintained his position. Detecting a column of Communist troops moving toward friendly positions, he swept the hostile soldiers with deadly, accurate fire, killing the entire group. His destructive retaliation caused the enemy to concentrate vicious fire on his position and enabled the friendly elements to affect a withdrawal. After the strong point was re-secured, Kravitz' body was found lying beside the gun he had so heroically manned; numerous enemy dead lay in and around his emplacement.

While sadly few had perhaps heard of the heroism of Leonard Kravitz, most have probably heard of his nephew, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz, who was in attendance at the ceremony.

The families of fellow Korean War veterans Cpl. Joe R. Baldonado, Sgt. Victor H. Espinoza, Sgt. 1st Class Eduardo Corral Gomez, Master Sgt. Juan E. Negron, Master Sgt. Mike C. Pena, Pfc. Demensio Rivera, Pvt. Miguel A. Vera and Sgt. Jack Weinstein were presented with the medals in a wooden frame.

“Many of these families … they’ve known these stories of heroism for decades” Obama said. “Still, they were pretty surprised when we called them to break the news about the Medal of Honor. Some of them thought it was a prank. Some of them thought it was a scam. A few of them thought it might be some trick to get their credit card number. When I called Melvin Morris, his first reaction was, ‘Oh, my God, what have I done?’”

The 72-year-old Morris, a Port St. John, Fla., resident, likes to spend his free time reading his Bible, going fishing or talking to his wife of 53 years, Mary. But in 1969, Morris was a 27-year-old staff sergeant with the 5th Special Forces Group in Chi Lang, Republic of Vietnam.

When Morris learned by radio that a fellow team commander had been killed near an enemy bunker, he immediately reorganized his men into an effective assault posture before advancing forward and splitting off with two men to recover the team commander’s body. Observing the maneuver, the hostile force concentrated its fire on Morris’s three-man element and successfully wounded both men accompanying him.

After assisting the two wounded men back to his forces’ lines, Morris charged forward into withering enemy fire with only his men’s suppressive fire as cover. While enemy machine gun emplacements continuously directed strafing fusillades against him, Morris destroyed the positions with hand grenades and continued his assault, ultimately eliminating four bunkers.

It would take almost 45 years, but now Morris’ actions that day have resulted in him receiving his Medal of Honor. He was joined at the ceremony by surviving Vietnam veterans Master Sgt. First Class Jose Rodela, also of the 5th Special Forces Group, and Spec. 4 Santiago J. Erevia of the 101st Airborne. Both Rodela and Erevia, a retired postal worker, live in San Antonio.

The families of Vietnam heroes Sgt. Candelario Garcia, Spec. 4 Leonard L. Alvarado, Staff Sgt. Felix M. Conde-Falcon, Spec. 4 Ardie R. Copas and Spec. 4 Jesus S. Duran received posthumous Medals of Honor.

Posted in the burner | 79 comments
 
« Previous story
Next story »

 

* To comment without a Facebook account, please scroll to the bottom.

Comments

Well Done, Mr. President, Sir, Well Done...

well done Mr. President my ass

What is your problem?

No problem just PROUD and if we can get some people to represent us I will be even show that pride

As President John F. Kennedy said, “[a] nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” That we now as a nation face our historical shortcomings and place the valor and sacrifice of these men in its proper context is both just and cause for celebration. They are the best of us and we must not forget.

He was the only President to go to East L.A.

I think that Kyle Harris’s racist and offensive remarks have no place here.

I'm sorry to say it, but if I were one of the recipients, I would not accept it from this president.

Nor would I accept any medal from this extremely poor excuse for a president. Looking at his past record, he should not be allowed to present a bone to a starving dog. During my 48 year career, I personally rejected several awards and medals because the presenter was not qualified to wear my jungle infested jock strap. We all know the reason for this presentation. Some were very deserving of this award. But Obama is doing it all for the 2014-16 elections. He will say, we, the democratic party did this for our brave troops. We know it was for the votes of the gullible and unknowing mass.

well said

Only "some" of these folks deserved the award? Thank you for your "jungle infested jock strap" service, but the political party, age, gender, color or other trait of the presenter should not detract from the reason an award is presented.

I believe most of America will disagreed with you because he's on his second term inspite of the opposition. I'm glad that guy that wrote 47% of Americans off didn't get in.

Wholeheartedly agree. GW Bush signed this act in 2002, I remember being on active duty. I realize that soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines come from every ethnicity, race, color. I'm latino and what I see are many Latinos that were awarded the CMH and no doubt that they earned it. I question the timing of what this CINC does because there isn't a damn thing he does that doesn't score political points for him and his failed policies!

I wonder if those who said they would not accept a decoration from President Obama would have accepted a decoration from a president who got many of our brothers and sisters killed or crippled in a needless war in Iraq.

Iam in total agreement with u.

Are you referring to George Herbert Walker Bush? Wasn't he a WWII hero? Why are you against GHW Bush?

I wonder if those who said they would not accept a decoration from President Obama would have accepted a decoration from a president who got many of our brothers and sisters killed or crippled in a needless war in Iraq.

I wonder if those who said they would not accept a decoration from President Obama would have accepted a decoration from a president who got many of our brothers and sisters killed or crippled in a needless war in Iraq.

ll those that would not receieve the award more than likely don't deserve it!!!!

has anyone heard of Guy Gabaldon read up on this man and ask why did he not get the MOH

That empty suit of a president, did not render a salute after the presenting of the MEDAL OF HONOR to those men. That was a disgrace to those men and their families! That was sort of like, "O.K. here's your medal, be grateful that I gave it to you"..........

I know of a Marine who should have gotten the Medal of Honor but only recieved the Navy Cross. I wonder if we could upgrade his award. He served in Viet-nam. Semoer Fi

This is a great story, but I wonder how it became known they were not awarded the medal because of discrimination of race or any other reason?

I have worked for seven years supporting COL Edward J. Sims appeals to the Army and then three Presidents, to rectify an injustice to one of our 82nd Airborne Division’s greatest heroes. In 1945, then 1LT Sims recommended then 1LT James “Maggie” Megellas for the Medal Of Honor. The Army lost the recommendation.
COL Sims passed away June 28, 2013. He was himself, a highly decorated hero, saving his men over Sicily by getting them out of a burning C-47 before jumping into the fight himself; fighting at Anzio, Monte Cassino, jumping into Holland and crossing the Waal River under fire and earning the Silver Star. In Korea, CAPT Sims got another Silver Star. COL Sims knew as much about combat and valor as anyone at the Pentagon.
I and other Paratroopers, Vets and Patriots have COL Sim’s blessing to continue his work as The Sims Team. We seek the Medal Of Honor for now LTC Megellas, now 97, because his valor in the Battle of The Bulge clearly warrants it.
During the Battle of the Bulge, Maggie led two undersized Paratroop platoons into a battalion-sized force of Germans. Maggie killed 28 of the enemy in the initial firefight. According to COL Sims, Maggie’s tiny Airborne force killed 250 Germans and took 250 prisoners. When a Mark V tank threatened his men, Maggie charged the tank and killed it with grenades. Not a single Paratrooper was even wounded during this firefight because of Maggie’s valor. Maggie then re-organized his men, took the town of Herresbach, personally killed another six of the enemy, placed his men to repel the counter-attack and held the town. Herresbach was then the leap-off point for the 82nd’s attack on the Siegfried Line. A few dozen reckless, selfless Paratroopers, led from the front by a most fierce warfighter who loved his men so much he repeatedly risked his life for them, enhanced the famed 504 Parachute Infantry Regiment’s and 82nd Airborne’s position ALL THE WAY TO BERLIN. They made a huge contribution to winning WWII.
COL Sims and every Paratrooper I know—including the leaders of the 82nd Airborne Division Association I’ve interviewed—recognize Maggie’s Herresbach action as worthy of the Medal Of Honor.
However, the Army lost 1LT Sim’s recommendation then cut some General Orders to award Maggie the Silver Star. That citation downsized the killed and captured numbers and eliminated the tank action altogether. When COL Sims appealed to the Army to rectify the Army’s own mistake, the Army told COL Sims to produce the paperwork the Army lost. COL Sims then began appeals to three Presidents which resulted in referrals back to the Army. He was again and again dismissed by the Army. (Secretary of the Army McHugh, who has never seen a shot fired in anger, dismissed this case last December when a few Senators and Representatives requested his review.)
Last year, Senate Bill S.993 was referred to the Senate Armed Forces Committee asking that the Committee approve the upgrade of Maggie’s Herresbach Silver Star to the Medal Of Honor. I can find no record of even a Committee conversation about S. 993.
Please let me hear from you as to your opinion of Maggie’s Herresbach valor and why it has not been accorded the honor defined by Medal Of Honor criteria and awards precedent.

Tom Laney, Secretary
The Sims Team
501st ABG/82nd Airborne 1960-63

This should be verified.

TO EVERYONE,

Whatever, the reason for awarding the Medal of Honor to these brave soldiers who had already received the 2nd highest Medal for bravery and risk of life; The Army should have located soldier who Never received any Medal of Recognition - but who risked their lives, saved the lives of their comrades, performed extraordinary Combat Actions that WON THE DAY and who were worthy of receiving the MEDAL OF HONOR. They are still, unheralded, unsung, and unknown but to GOD. WE WOUNDED COMBAT VETERANS SALUTE THEM ALL.

This is a rather moot point. Will the recipients or their beneficiaries also receive compensation for their medical expenses and benefits of the MOH? Most of the medical expenses would be difficult to justify.

I am proud to that i served in the military to defend this country,I was in vietnam in 1968 during the ted defensive,i was in five operations up north,and thank god i came back home safe.But to all my brothers and sisters who serveed over seas i am proud of you that you went to fight your butts off to keek this country and people free.THAN YOU BROTHERS AND SISTERS,SIMPER FI TO ALL YOU VETS

It warms my heart to see some military professional acting like children, let's focus on making sure veterans are being taken care of. Politics will always be that politics.

Be3ing a combat vet 27th inf regt korea, let me say this: when the bullets come flying in and the mortor shell start falling with nthe artillary on you it makes no damn difference what braceb you are or ethnic or whatevr tghese men should have had this done to many years ago politics is all it.
hand salute to those brave men.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
Have a tip for us? A link that should appear here? Contact us.
News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.