Transcript for President Obama Presents Medal of Honor to Forgotten Vets
I'm -- company -- this ABC news -- -- live event. Honoring heroes. And now finally -- presentation president a -- this afternoon -- 24 American war veterans the highest recognition of bravery. The medal of honor many of them. Overlooked in the past because of their race or ethnicity. Three of those arteries -- the rest will be awarded their medals posthumously with family or children in many cases presence in their place. And as we see this ceremony there getting under way let's listen. Welcome to the White House. -- the presentation. Our nation's highest military decoration. The medal Obama. Is always special occasion. But today it is truly -- store. This is the single largest group. -- service members to be awarded the medal of -- sense the Second World War. And with several of these soldiers recognized for their valor. During that war this sir -- is seventy years in the making. As one family member has said. This is long overdue. -- many of these families. And I have a chance to meet all of them. Who were present here today. You know they've known -- stories of heroism for decades. Still there were pretty surprised when we call them to break the news. -- -- -- Some of them thought it was a frank. So mom 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 Moore Morris who'll recognize in the moment for his actions in Vietnam his first reaction was. Oh my -- what of I don't. When I told -- it was all good. The medal of honor. I could hear through the -- almost passed out. -- -- For their gallantry under fire each of these soldiers was long ago recognized. Would -- army's second. Highest war. The distinguished service cross. But -- their fellow veterans. Asked their families. And they'll tell you that bear extraordinary deeds merited the highest recognition. And today. We have the chance to set the record straight. If this ceremony reminds us of one of -- enduring qualities. The makes America great. That makes us exceptional. No nation is perfect but here in America we confront our imperfections and face the sometimes painful past. Including the truth that some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as -- So we've each generation we keep on striving to live up to our ideals of freedom and equality. And to recognize the dignity and patriotism. Of every person no matter who they are what they look like. -- -- -- -- That's why more than a decade ago congress mandated a review. To make sure of the heroism. Of our veterans wasn't overlooked because of prejudice. Or discrimination. Our military review thousands of war records. They teamed up -- veterans groups. And museums to get this right. It was painstaking work -- even harder because sometimes our service members. Felt as if they need to change their last names to -- in. That tells a story about our past. But ultimately after years of review these two dozen soldiers. Among them Hispanic African American and -- medals. Were identified as having -- The metal about. This is the length to which America will go to make sure every one who serves under our proud flag. Receives the banks. That they deserve. So there's going to be a long ceremony. We're gonna read all 24 citations. Because every one is a story of bravery that deserves to be told. The first on -- take just a few minutes to describe. The Americans behind these actions. The -- these families know. The brilliant lies behind the smiling faces in those old photographs and how they reflected all. The beauty and diversity of the country debates -- They were Americans by birth and Americans by choice. Immigrants including one who was not yet even a citizen. They grow up in big city neighborhoods like Brooklyn. Rural communities like Hooper Nebraska. Small towns like Puerto Rico. I -- fish -- baseball they were sons who made their parents proud and Brothers through their siblings looked up to. There were so we -- many in their early twenties. And when their country went to war they answer the call. They put on the uniform and -- their families could buy some of them hugged wives and children that they'd never see again. They fought in the rocky hills of Italy. The blood stained beaches of France. And the freezing mountains of Korea. The human jungles. Of Vietnam. Their courage almost defies imagination. When you read. The records. Of these individuals. It's unimaginable. The -- -- that they display. Running -- bullets. Charging machine gun nests and climbing aboard tanks and taking them out. Covering their comrades so they could make it. To safety. Holding back enemies wave after wave even when. The combat was hand to hand. Manning their posts. Some to their very last breaths. So that their comrades might live. Of the -- for American soldiers we are today. Ten never came home. One of them. Corporal Joseph Maldonado from the Korean War this domestic. Reminding us that this nation we have a sacred obligation to keep working to give the families of our missing service members from all wars a full accounting. Of their loved ones. Through their brief the families of our fallen summon the strength to carry -- Wives who. Was Arctic for their husbands. Sons and daughters who -- without their dad. Nieces and nephews grandchildren. And these families join us here today. And they know more than most but because others laid down their lives for us. We've been able to live. Our lives and -- Pursue our dreams. So there's a legacy here. Board of sacrifice. That includes a soldier's -- A kid from New York who grew up to become. -- -- great rock stars of all time and -- as uncle here today. And includes. Soldiers through. Came home and took different pass some continue to serve in uniform some. Be getting new careers some getting married and raising their kids serving their community is taking care of their fellow vets. These veterans lived up their lives in the country that they helped to defendant. Doing what they love like William water through it page 71. Passed away in his backyard sitting in his chair listening to. His beloved yankees playoff. On the radio. That's where the story might -- ended. But. -- -- A friend of wanna -- soldiers and army vet himself set out on a mission. He and his wife Marilyn spent years writing letters and working with congress and our military to get this done and so we bank. All those who worked so hard for so long to bring us to this moment especially. Maryland and Mitchell now 83 years old -- -- to stand so that we can also expect. Finally. -- 24 soldiers. Three remain with us and have joined us here today. Men who were -- -- sometimes. They're heroes we seek. All right in front of us. Literally. Living right next door. Most days you can find was there were no. Credit. In a San Antonio home. 76 year old retiree who enjoys watching baseball on TV and working on his 1975. Chevy pick up. And -- on the -- prisoners. Joseph is such a humble -- Was there is such a humble guy that he did not even mention the ceremony to his neighbors. Who I think would be pretty shocked to turn on the news tonight. And save -- the guy who. Cuts because their lawns give the -- bottom. Today we remember how 32 year old sergeant first class. Rubella. -- through his wounds in Vietnam and rallied his men during eighteen hours of constant combat. Most days you can find Melvin -- sent home in fort port Saint John Florida. Survey two years old. Retired salesman and a great grandfather. You'll find a Morgan -- boat going fishing reading the Bible. Spending time where there is beautiful wife Mary married 53 years this month. -- -- give me some tips. Not -- for another for a long and today we remember -- 27 year old staff sergeant Morris. One of our nation's very first remember it. One of our very first -- -- think about that. Amendment. That's. Legendary. How the staff sergeant Morris recovered a fallen comrade in Vietnam. Took -- several enemy bunkers and kept going even after he was shot three times. And on most days you can find some -- -- -- via. At home in San Antonio. He's a 68 year old retired postal worker. He's fixing up his house took a -- turning -- the garden going on walks with his wife. Are doing some pushups to stay in -- Today we -- -- 23 year old specialist for. -- -- Under a hail of bullets in Vietnam. -- first aid to his wounded comrades and single handedly destroyed. Four. Enemy bunkers. These are extraordinary Americans. There exemplary. Soldiers. And so -- want to begin by welcoming Santiago. -- -- To stage for the reading of the citation. Specialist for Santiago -- here via the united states army. The president of the United States of America authorized by act of congress march 31863. Has awarded in the name of congress the medal of honor to. Specialist for Santiago. Air Arabia united states army for conspicuous gallantry -- -- ADV at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Specialist for Santiago -- -- -- distinguished himself by acts of the country and intricate eighty above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as a radio telephone operator and company C first Italian air mobile. 500 -- infantry 101 airborne division air mobile during search and clear mission -- tam -- Republic of Vietnam. On May 211969. After breaching an insurgent perimeter specialist for air Arabia was designated by his platoon -- to render first aid. To several casualties and the rest of -- to move forward. As he was doing so he came under intense hostile fire from four bunkers to his left front. Although he could have taken cover with the rest of the element he chose a retaliatory course of action. With heavy enemy fire directed at him he moved in full view of the hostile -- as he proceeded to crawl from one wounded man to another gathering ammunition. Armed with TM sixteen rifles and several hand grenades he charged toward the enemy positions behind the suppressive fire and the -- rifles. Under very intense fires that continue to advance on the insurgents until he was near the first bunker. Disregarding the enemy fire people that came from a hand grenade in advance on the bunker leveling suppressive fire until he could drop a grenade into the bunker. Mortally wounding -- insurgent and destroying the fortification. Without hesitation he employed identical tactics as he proceeded to eliminate the next two and -- positions. With the destruction of the third bunker busters for air India had exhausted his supply hand grenades. Still under intense fire from the fourth position he courageously charged forward behind the fire and aided by his M sixteen rifles. Arriving at the very edge of the bunker he silenced the occupation -- the fortification at point blank range. Through his heroic actions the light of the wounded received and the members of the company command post were relieved from a very precarious situation. His exemplary performance in the face of overwhelming danger was an inspiration to used tire company and contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission. Specialist for her -- is conspicuous gallantry extraordinary heroism and injured it'd be at the risk of his own life. Above and beyond the call of duty -- in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit in the united states army. Sargent first class Melvin Morse. Sargent first class Melvin -- us. Distinguished himself by acts of gallantry. And -- city. Above and beyond the call of duty. -- serving as commander of a strike force drawn from company. First special forces during combat operations against an armed enemy in the city if she -- Republic of Vietnam. On September 17 1969. On that afternoon staff -- -- is affiliated companies encountered an extensive enemy mine field and were subsequently engaged by -- hostile force. Staff sergeant Morris learned by radio that a fellow team commander. Had been killed near an enemy bunker and he immediately reorganized his men into an effective assault posture. Before dancing for. And splitting off. Two men to recover the team commanders but. Observing the maneuver the hostile force concentrated its fire on -- -- -- -- -- three man element. And successfully wounded both men accompanying him. After assisting the two wounded been back its forces lines staff sergeant Morse charged forward into withering enemy fire. With only his -- suppress the fires cover. -- any machine gun emplacements continuously directed strafing fusillade against him. Staff sergeant -- destroyed the positions with hand grenades and continued his assault. Ultimately eliminating four bunkers. But far reaching the bunker near the only team commander staff -- -- repulsed the enemy. Retrieved his comrade and begin the arduous trek back to friendly lines. He was wounded three times as he -- forward but ultimately succeeded in returning -- fallen comrade to a friendly position. Steps -- -- -- is extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service. And reflect great credit upon himself. His unit. And united states army. Master sergeant first class Jose were Della. Master sergeant Jose repellent distinguished himself by acts of gallantry in trip it'd be above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as the company commander detachment B 36 company a fifth special forces group airborne. First special forces during combat operations against army and -- In -- long province Republic of Vietnam on September 11969. That afternoon master sergeant -- -- battalion came under an intense barrage of mortar rocket and machine gunfire. Ignoring a withering enemy fire master sergeant Rhode -- immediately began placing his nanny and then. -- defensive positions to prevent the enemy from overrunning the entire battalion. Repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire. -- Sargent -- -- moved from position to position providing suppressing fire in assisting wounded. And was himself wounded in the back in head by a B forty rocket. While recovering the wounded comrade. Alone master Sargent -- -- assaulted and knocked out the B forty rocket position before successfully returning to the -- perimeter. Master sergeant -- -- extraordinary heroism. And selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions and military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit and the united states army. -- -- One asked something our growth and Melvin through a return to the stage please. There is a remarkable moment. And as they come up I'd like to -- call. As -- their positions I'd like tumor call. The words of the poet. -- much is taken. Much abides. No we are not now. That strength which in old days moved earth and heaven. That which we are we are. When equal temper. Of the -- parts. Made weak by time and fate but strong and will to strive. To seek. To find. And not to yield. Santiago there -- via. -- -- -- -- In the thick of the fight. All those years ago. For your comrades in your country. You refused to yield. On behalf of a grateful nation. We all want to thank you for inspiring us. Then and now. -- your strength. You will. And your Aurora courts. Please give them big run before. Come -- thank you. Please take your seats will proceed with the -- the ceremony. -- -- Excepting on behalf of her father specialist for. -- -- -- -- Specialist for Leonard -- Eldorado. Distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intricate and -- Above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as a rifleman with company. During combat operations against an armed enemy in -- -- province Republic of Vietnam on August 12 1969. On that day -- specialist for Alvarado and a small reaction force moved through dense jungle in return to a beleaguered friendly attitude. Specialist for -- Colorado detective enemy movement and opened fire. Despite -- quick reaction specialist for Alvarado and his comrades were soon pinned down by the hostile force. That blocked the path to the trapped platoon. Specialist for -- quickly move forward through the hostile machine gun fire in order to engage the enemy troops. Suddenly an enemy grenade exploded nearby wounded and momentarily stunning him. Retaliating immediately he killed the grenadiers just as another enemy barrage wounded him again. Specialist for Alvarado crawled forward through the fusillade it to -- -- comrades back within -- -- formed -- perimeter. Realizing his element needed to break away from the hostile force specialist for -- began maneuvering forward alone. The repeatedly thrown to the ground by exploding -- charges he continued advancing and firing silencing several emplacements. Including one enemy machine gun position. From his dangerous for position he persistently late suppressive fire. On the hostile forces and after the enemy troops had broken contact his comrades discovered that he had succumbed to his wounds. Specialist for -- brought -- extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life. Above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit in the United States armed. Richard -- Accepting on behalf of his father Sargent first class Felix and Conde -- Sargent first class Felix and Condit Falcone distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and -- -- it'd be above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as acting platoon leader and company -- First battalion 505. Infantry regiment third brigade. 82 airborne division during combat operations. Begins an arm and mean you have ten who have Republican Vietnam on April 4 1969. While answering a heavily wooded section. On -- route to the dance. First class Condit Falcone and his company Connors an extensive enemy bunker complex later identified as of Italian command post. Following tactical artillery and airstrikes on the heavily secured and any position Sargent first class Connie felt -- the teen was selected to a sold -- clear the bunker. Fortifications. Moving out ahead of his platoon sergeant first class -- outcome charged the first -- -- Keating grenades as he went. As the hostile fire increase he crawled to the blind side of the entrenched position. Jumped to their -- and tossed a grenade into the bunker aperture. Without hesitating he proceeded to two additional bunkers pulpit which he destroyed in the same manner as the first. Rejoining his platoon sergeant first class Condit -- -- dance about 100 meters through the trees before coming under intense hostile fire. Selecting three meant to accompany him he -- -- toward the enemy's flank position. Hearing a machine gun he singlehandedly -- the nearest fortification. Killing the enemy inside before running out of ammunition. After returning to the three men with his anti weapon in taking up an M sixteen rifle he concentrated on the next bunkered. Within ten metres of fiscal sergeant first class Condit folk song was shot kind unseen assailant and she died at this means. Sargent first class Condit -- homes extraordinary heroism. And selflessness that the cost of his own life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. He's unit and the united states army. -- -- -- -- -- on behalf of her father specialist for. Party are -- us. Specialist for. RDR -- -- distinguish himself by acts of gallantry and -- pitted. Above and beyond the call of duty -- serving as a machine Gunner in company C. First battalion mechanized -- infantry regiment. 25 infantry division during combat operations against an armed enemy here from -- -- Cambodia on May twelfth 1970. That morning specialist for -- his company was suddenly attacked. By a large hostile force firing record -- rifles rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons. A specialist for -- began returning fire is armored car was struck by an enemy record let's round. Knocking him to the ground and injuring four American soldiers -- the vehicle. Ignoring his own wounds specialist for -- -- quickly rebounded the burning vehicle and commenced firing his machine gun at the belligerence. Braving a hostile fire directed at him and the possible detonation of the mortar rounds inside the track. Specialist for -- -- maintained a heavy volume of suppressive fire on the -- -- the wounded Americans were safely evacuated. Undaunted specialist for -- must continue to place devastating volleys of fire upon yet the series until he was mortally wounded. When another enemy round hit his vehicle. Specialist for -- his daring action. Resulted in the safe evacuation of his comrades. -- Specialist for caucuses extraordinary heroism and selflessness. At the cost of his own life above and beyond the call of duty. Aren't keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself his unit. And united states army. -- -- -- -- -- Accepting on behalf of her father. Specialist for Casey's -- -- Specialist for cases Hester ran distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and -- -- -- -- above and beyond removal of duty. While serving as acting M sixty machine Gunner. In company. Second battalion fifth calvary. First calvary division air mobile during combat operations against armed enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on April 101969. That afternoon the reconnaissance platoon was moved into an elaborate -- bunker complex when the lead elements began -- concentrated ambush fire from every side. The command post was in imminent danger being overrun. Wing and sixty machine gun blazing from his hip specialist -- -- rushed forward and it seemed -- defense position near the command post. As hostile forces stormed forward. Specialist -- and stood tall. In a cloud of dust raised by the impacting rounds in bursting grenades directed towards him and worked at the -- the devastating streams of machine -- -- Learning that too seriously wounded troops -- helplessly pinned down under harassing fire. Specialist border and assaulted this oppressive enemy positions firing deadly bursts on the -- Mounting alarm he fired directly into the enemies fox schools eliminating or in cutting down several others as they fled. Specialist ordering -- -- continued to -- effective fire on the disorganized and fleeing enemy. Specialist order granting extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty. Are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit in the United States are. Command Sargent major Michael Princeton. -- on behalf of Sargent kind of Mario Garcia. Sargent -- Mario Garcia. Distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intricate if -- Above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as an acting team leader for company -- First battalion second infantry. First brigade first infantry division during combat operations against an armed enemy. In -- -- Republic of Vietnam on December 8 1968. On that day were conducting reconnaissance. Sergeant Garcia and his platoon discovered communication wire and other sides of an enemy base camp meeting into a densely agitated area. As the -- advance they came under intense fire. Several men were hit and trapped in the open. Ignoring a hail of hostile bullets sergeant Garcia crawl to within ten meters of a machine gun bunker. Lead to his feet and ran directly at the fortification. Firing his rifle as he charged. Sergio Garcia -- to hand grenades into the gun port and then place the muzzle of his weapon inside killing all four occupants. Continuing to expose himself to intense enemy fire. -- Garcia raced fifteen meters to another bunker and killed its three defenders with hand grenades and rifle fire. After again -- enemies barrage in order to rescue two casualties. He joined his company in an assault which overran the remaining enemy positions. Sergio Garcia is extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service. And reflect great credit upon himself. His unit and the united states army. Charles Bolden out and accepting on behalf of his brother. Corporal Joseph are -- Corporal Gerald. While serving as an acting machine Gunner in third squad. Second platoon company B. 187. Airborne infantry regiment during combat operations against armed enemy. In king Altria -- November 251950. On that morning the -- launched a strong attack in an effort to seize the hill occupied by corporal -- not aaron's company. The -- had expended most of its ammunition will be telling -- and the attack in the platoon leader decided to commit his third squad. Where -- supply of ammunition in the defensive action. Since there was no time to dig in because of the proximity of the enemy who had advanced to within 25 yards for the team position. Purple ball -- not -- places weapon in an exposed position. And delivered a withering stream of fire on the advancing enemy causing them to fall back in disorder. The enemy then concentrated all their fire -- corporal -- out of his gun and attempted to knock it out by rushing the position in small groups and hurling hand grenades. Several times grenades excluded extremely close to corporal bombing on her with built in Iraq is continues firing. The hostile troops -- repeated attempts to storm his position and were driven that each time the -- casualties. The -- finally withdrew after making a final assault on purple ball being honest position during which -- grenade landed near his gun killing him instantly. Corporal -- and -- extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life. Above and beyond -- college and -- -- in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit in the united states army. Tyrone Espinosa. -- on behalf of his father corporal Victor -- -- Corporal Victor H Espinoza distinguish himself by acts of gallantry and -- -- -- Above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as an acting rifleman and company -- 23 infantry regiment second infantry division during combat operations. Against an armed enemy -- one Korea on August 11952. On that day corporal Espinoza and his unit were responsible for securing and holding -- vital enemy hill. As the from the unit neared its objective it was subjected to a devastating volume of enemy fire slowing its progress. Corporal Espinoza on hesitating -- and being fully aware of the hazards involved. Left his place of comparative safety and made a deliberate one man assault on the enemy with his rifle and grenades. Destroying machine gun and killing the crew. Corporal Espinoza continue to cross the fire swept terrain to an exposed vantage point -- he attacked -- -- -- mortar position. Into bunkers with grenades and rifle fire. Knocking out the enemy mortar position and destroying those bunkers and killing their occupants. Upon reaching the crest and after running out of rifle ammunition he called for more grenades. A comrade who was behind him through some Chinese grenades to him. Immediately upon catching them he told the pins and -- them into the occupied -- -- killing and wounding more of the enemy with their own weapons. Continuing on through a tunnel corporate Espinoza made a daring charge inflicting at least seven more casualties upon the enemy. Who were fast retreating into the tunnel. -- -- Espinosa was quickly in pursuit but the hostile fire from the opening prevented him from overtaking the retreating enemy. As a result -- less than those that destroyed the tunnel with TNT calls for more grenades from his company and -- -- the enemy troops until they were out of reach. Corporal Espinoza is incredible display of dollar secured the -- strong point and took a heavy -- on the enemy. Resulting in at least fourteen dead and eleven wounded. Corporal -- is extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service. And reflect great credit upon himself. His unit and united states army. Pete Correll. Accepting on behalf of his uncle sergeant Eduardo C Gomez. Sergeant Eduardo C illness distinguished himself by acts of gallantry -- ancient city. While serving with company 88 calvary regiment. First calvary division during combat operations against an armed enemy in taboo don't Korea on September 31950. That afternoon while conducting combat patrol sergeant -- his company was ruthlessly attacked by hostile force. Which moved within 75 yards the command post before it was immobilized by rocket fire. However any change in multiple and any machine guns continue to -- the company premiere with devastating fire. Realizing -- -- pose a serious threat to the entire perimeter sergeant Gomez voluntarily crawled thirty yards across an open rice field. Vulnerable to enemy observation and fire. Boarded detained pried open one of the hatches on the terrorists and dropping activated grenade into the whole killing the crew. Rooted in the left side while returning to his position sergeant Gomez refused evacuation. Observing -- the tripod about thirty caliber machine gun. Was rendered inoperable by enemy fire he cradled -- weapon in his arms returned to the forward defense positions and swept the -- force -- withering fire. Although his weapon overheated and burned his hands in his painful wounds still led. Sergeant Gomez maintain this stand and upon orders to withdraw in the face of overwhelming and Amy superiority. We need to provide protected fire. Sergeant Gomez continue to -- accurate fires into the enemy ranks exacting a heavy tool in casualties and -- -- their dance. Sergio Gomez would not -- to -- this foods for medical attention to the company established new defensive positions. Sergeant Gomez is extraordinary heroism and selflessness -- -- beyond the call of duty. Her in keeping with the highest tradition in military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit in the united states army. -- -- -- Accepting on behalf of her -- private first class Leonard and -- Private first class Leonard -- Kravitz distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and -- pitted. Above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an assistant machine Gunner with company -- Fifth infantry regiment 24 infantry division. During combat operations against an armed enemy in -- -- Korea on March 6 and 71951. After friendly elements had repulsed two probing attacks the enemy launched a fanatical bonds -- charged with heavy supporting fire and despite staggering losses pressed the assault with a ruthless determination. When the machine Gunner was wounded in the initial phase of the action. Private first class credits immediately seize the weapon and -- devastating fire into the ranks of the on rushing assailants. The enemy affected and exploded a breach on the left flank rendering the friendly positions untenable. Upon order to withdraw private first class Kravitz voluntarily remain to provide protective fire for the retiring elements. Detecting enemy troops moving toward from the positions private first class -- swept the hostile soldiers -- deadly accurate fire killing the entire group. His destructive retaliation cause the enemy to concentrate vicious fire on his position enabled the friendly elements to withdraw. Later after from the troops had returned private first class Kravitz was found dead behind the gun he had so heroically -- Surrounded by numerous -- day. Private first class Kravitz is extraordinary here was. And selflessness at the cost of his own life above and beyond the call of duty for keeping the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit in the united states army. -- -- -- Accepting on behalf of her father. Sergeant Juan. -- want to -- if Iran distinguished himself by acts of gallantry in intricate eighty above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as a member of company L 65 infantry regiment third infantry division. During combat operations against an -- and me in -- -- Korea on April 28 1951. That afternoon Sargent -- on to got the most vulnerable position on his company's exposed right flank after an enemy force had overrun a section of the line. When notified that elements of this company were withdrawing -- Negron refuse to leave his exposed position. Instead delivering withering fire -- would treat with broken through a roadblock. When the hostile troops approached his position -- -- -- accurately hurled hand grenades short range halting their attack. Sargent Negron held the position throughout the night while friendly forces organized -- launched a counterattack. The next morning after the end he had been repulsed friendly forces relieved Sargent Negron and found the bodies of fifteen enemy soldiers surrounding his position. -- bronze extraordinary heroism and selflessness. Above and beyond the call of duty. Aren't keeping -- -- highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself his unit and united states army. Michael David Pena. Accepting on behalf of his father. Master Sargent Mike C Pena. Master Sargent Mike C Pena distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and -- pitted. Above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as a member of company -- Fifth cavalry regiment first cavalry division. During combat operations against an armed enemy in the -- one Korea. On -- 41950. That evening undercover of darkness and injury -- and -- battalion moved to within a few yards of master -- opinions platoon. Recognizing the enemies approach that's sort opinion and his men opened fire. But the enemy sudden emergence and accurate point blank fire forced the friendly troops to withdraw. Master sort of -- rapidly reorganized his men and -- them in a counterattack which succeeded in regaining the positions they had just lost. He and -- -- quickly established a defensive perimeter and laid down devastating fire. But enemy troops continued to hurl themselves at the -- -- in overwhelming numbers. Realizing that their -- supplied ammunition which soon make their positions untenable. Master sergeant -- ordered his men to fall back and manned a machine gun to cover their withdrawal. He singlehandedly helped -- the enemy until the early hours of the following morning when his position was overrun and he was killed. -- sort opinions extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life above and beyond the call of duty. Are keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself his unit and the united states army. Sargent Ashley Randall. Accepting on behalf of her grandfather private. -- -- -- -- Private dementieva Rivera distinguished himself by acts of gallantry -- -- -- eighty above and beyond the call of -- While serving as an automatic rifleman -- second platoon company -- seventh infantry regiment third infantry division. During combat operations against an armed enemy in king young -- Korea on May 231951. Early that morning a large hostile force emerged from the dense fog and viciously attacked -- Revere and his comrades. -- -- immediately responded by firing deadly accuracy until his weapons again. Without hesitating he threw his right foot down and began to engage in -- with his -- grenades. At one point private Rivera used to crawl from some -- to engaging infiltrating enemy soldier in fierce hand to hand combat. With only the sound of footsteps in obscure -- -- ignite his game. -- Rivera held this position against tremendous odds. Conflicting numerous casualties on the enemy until he found himself without any nation of any kind except one grenade. Displaying a -- was fighting spirit in an utterly selfless devotion to duty. Private Rivera pulled the -- from his last -- he calmly waited for the enemy to reach his position. His enemy troops leaked inside the bunker Carter Rivera activated the grenade with the full knowledge that it meant -- almost certain death. When the debris from the explosion had cleared. Friendly forces recovered a severely wounded private Revere and discovered the bodies were dead or dying -- soldiers surrounding him. Private -- extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service. And reflect great credit upon himself his unit in the united states army. Joseph Rodriguez accepting on behalf of his uncle. Private Miguel -- Better. Private Miguel -- -- distinguish himself by acts of gallantry. -- -- -- Above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an automatic rifleman which company yes. 38 infantry regiment second infantry division -- one Korea on September 211952. That morning despite suffering from wounds inflicted in a previous battle. Private Vera voluntarily left the -- station to join his comrades and an attack against well fortified enemy positions on a hill of great importance. When -- assaulting elements had moved within twenty yards that the enemy positions they were suddenly trapped by a heavy volume of mortar artillery and small arms fire. The company prepared to make a limited withdrawal or private -- volunteer to remain behind to provide covering fire. Has his company's move to safety private air remained steadfast disposition. Stricken -- fire against the hostile positions despite intense volume of fire which seemingly was concentrating upon him. Later in the morning when the from the force returned they discovered private area in the same position facing the enemy. Private -- noble into pitted and self sacrifice saved many of his comrades lives. Private there is extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life above and beyond the call of duty. Aren't keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit in the United States -- Nancy Weinstein. -- accepting on behalf of her husband. Sargent Jack Weinstein. Sargent Jack Weinstein seamless himself by acts of gallantry in ancient city be above and beyond the call of duty. While leading first platoon. Company G-20 first infantry regiment 24 infantry division in comes on Korea on October 191950. -- That afternoon thirty enemy troops -- Sargent Weinstein's thirteen. Most of the -- members had been wounded in the previous action and we true under the heavy fire. Sargent Weinstein however meaning in his position and continued to fight off the on rushing and me. Killing at least six with -- M one rifle before running out ammunition. Although under extremely heavy enemy fire sergeant -- refused to withdraw and continue fighting by throwing any hand grenades found lying near his position. He again halted the enemies progress and -- numerous casualties. Alone and unaided he held -- ground which is -- teen had fought tenaciously to take and held out against overwhelming odds until another platoons equal to relieve him. And drive that the enemy. -- Weinstein's lake had been broken buying -- grenade in all of whom suffered in previous analysts had reopened. But he refused to withdraw -- success successfully bought time for his wounded comrades to reach friendly lines. Sargent Weinstein's extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty. Aren't keeping -- -- highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit in the united states army. Dominica Perez. Accepting on behalf of her father. -- -- -- Private Pedro Condo. Distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and -- could -- be. Above and beyond the call of duty. While serving with company C -- infantry regiment fourth infantry division during combat operations against an armed enemy in -- -- Germany. On December 2 and third 1944. On the afternoon of the second American -- Truman launched an attack against German emplacements but were repulsed by enemy machine gunfire. Armed with a rocket launcher private Condo crawled through -- densely mined area under heavy enemy fire. And successfully reached a point within ten yards of the nearest emplacement. He quickly fired a rocket into the position killing the two -- and five supporting rifleman. Without hesitating he fired into -- second position killing two more gunners. And proceeded to assault the position with hand grenades killing several others in disbursing the rest. Then when -- -- company encountered heavy fire private Condo crossed his company front. Crept to within fifteen yards of the nearest enemy emplacements and killed the two machine gunners with a rocket. With another round he kill two more -- and destroyed a second gun. On the private Condo armed with this rocket launcher again moved to crossed fire swept terrain in district three -- -- -- guns in succession. Killing the six -- Private -- extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are keeping with the highest traditions of military service. And reflect great credit upon himself. His unit and the united states army. Miriam Adams. Accepting on behalf of her uncle. Private joke Indira. Private joke -- distinguished himself by acts of gallantry in -- -- the above the on the call of duty. While serving with company -- Second battalion 507. Parachute infantry regiment. Seventy airborne division during combat operations against an armed enemy camp for bill France on June 9 1944. On that day private and Harris detachment came under devastating enemy fire from a strong German force any and then to the ground for a period of four hours. Private -- voluntarily advance alone toward the -- position. Firing his machine gun from his hit as he moved forward he destroyed three hostile machine guns before he was fatally wounded. Private and there is extraordinary heroism and selflessness the cost of his own life. Above and beyond -- -- -- are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit in the united states army. -- -- Accepting on behalf of his brother private first class Salvador -- Laura. Private first class Salvador j.s Mara distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and -- -- -- Above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as the squad leader of a rifle squad with second platoon. Company -- 180 infantry 45 infantry division during combat operations against an armed enemy in -- -- Italy on May 27 and 28. 1944. On the afternoon of the 27 private first class -- aggressively led his rifle squad in neutralizing multiply many strong points. And inflicting large numbers of casualties on the enemy. Having taken his initial objective private first class Laura. Notice that the unit to his right was meeting stiff resistance from a large well entrenched enemy force in a deep ditch. Private first class Laura quickly that the three men and attack it wide section of the enemy position. Killing four forcing fifteen others to surrender and causing two enemy mortar crews to abandon their weapons. His fearless and efficient performance -- both his own unit and that -- to his right to continue to their objective. The next morning as his company resumed the attack private first class Laura sustained -- severe leg wound but did not stop to receive first -- This company suffered heavy casualties as a result of withering machine gun fire coming from an enemy strong point on the right flank. After requesting permission to destroy the enemy machine guns armed only with a Browning automatic rifle. Private first class Laura -- alone toward the nearest machine gun. Despite -- painful wound in the extreme danger the task heroes and -- was to charge the -- killing the crew members. Another machine and opened fire on him but he quickly neutralize this weapon -- accurate fire from his -- killing three more of the enemy. His aggressive attack forced to other machine gun crews to flee their weapons. After -- joining his company private first class Laura continued his exemplary performance until he captured his objective. Private first class -- extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are keeping with the highest traditions of military service. And reflect great credit upon himself his unit in the United States -- Patricia Kennedy. Patricia Kennedy. -- on behalf of her father private first class William F Leonard. Private first class William F Leonard distinguished himself by acts of gallantry. In a trip that he. While serving as a squad leader and company C. Thirtieth infantry regiment. Third infantry division during combat operations against an armed and me you're seeing -- France on November 7 1944. Private first class Leonard's -- was reduced to -- and as a result of blistering artillery mortar machine gun and rifle fire. Private first class Leonard led the survivors in an assault over -- covered by trees shrubs which he and any continuously swept with automatic weapons fire. Ignoring bullets which pierced his -- Private first class letter killed two snipers ranges of fifty and 75 yards in engaged industry to machine gun nest grenades killing its two man crew. The momentarily stunned by excluding bazooka shell. Private first class Leonard relentlessly advanced ultimately knocking out a second machine gun -- in capturing the roadblock objected. Private first class -- extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty. -- in keeping -- -- highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself his unit in the united states army. Alice Mendoza. Accepting on behalf of her husband staff Sargent Manuel -- Mendoza. Staff Sargent Manuel G Mendoza distinguished himself by acts of gallantry in -- -- Above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a platoon sergeant with company B. 350 infantry 88 infantry division. During combat operations against an armed enemy on -- the -- via Italy on October 4 1944. That afternoon the enemy launched a violent counterattack proceeded by -- heavy mortar barrage. Staff sergeant Mendoza already wounded in the arm and leg. -- Thompson submachine gun and ran to the crest of the hill where he saw approximately 200 enemy troops. Charging up the slopes employing flame throwers machine pistols rifles and hand grenades. Staff sergeant Mendoza and you -- again to engage the enemy firing five clips and killing ten enemy soldiers. After exhausting his ammunition he picked up a car being an empty its magazine at the enemy. By this time an enemy soldier with a flame through or had almost reached the crest but was quickly eliminated as staff sergeant Mendoza drew his pistol and fired. Seeing -- the enemy force continued to advance staff sergeant Mendoza jumped into machine gun emplacement that had just been abandoned and opened fire. Unable to engage the entire enemy -- from his location he picked up the machine gun and move forward. Firing from -- -- and spraying it withering hail of bullets into the oncoming enemy causing them to break into confusion. He then set the machine gun on the ground and continue to fire until the gun jammed. Without hesitating staff sergeant Mendoza began throwing hand grenades at the enemy causing them to -- After the enemy had withdrawn he advanced down the fort slope of the hill retrieved numerous enemy weapons scattered about the area. Captured -- wounded enemy soldier in return to consolidate -- positions with all available men. Staff sergeant in doses gallant stand resulted in thirty German soldiers killed and -- successful defense of the hill. Staff sergeant in -- extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty or keeping with the highest traditions of military service. And reflect great credit -- self. His unit in the united states army. Robert -- Accepting on behalf of his first cousin sergeant Alfred. -- -- Sergeant Alfred it beaten excellent distinguished himself by acts gallon -- in in -- that he above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as a section leader for company H sixteenth infantry regiment. First infantry division during combat operations against an armed enemy in high -- in Germany on November 18 1940 hour. That afternoon sergeant and that's all fought tenaciously to -- -- vicious and -- against his unit. Sargent -- -- completely accurate intense fire from his machine gun -- success successfully slowed the hostile against. However the overwhelming enemy force continue to press forward. Realizing he desperately needed reinforcement. Sargent -- ordered the three remaining members of his -- returned to the company command post and security. He immediately turned his attention to covering their movements with his fire. After expending all his machine gun ammunition Sargent Nestle began firing his rifle -- to -- -- ranks until he was killed by the explosion of an enemy grenade. Sargent -- extraordinary heroism and selflessness but the costs of his own life. Above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself -- His unit in the united states army. Doctor Terry each -- Accepting on behalf of his father. First lieutenant Donald -- Schwab. First lieutenant Donald -- Schwab distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and -- -- Above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as the commander for company. Third infantry division during combat operations against an armed enemy near -- France on September 17 1944. That afternoon as first lieutenant Schwab led his company across 400 yards of exposed ground. And intense grazing bursts of machine gun and machine pistol fire sprung forth without warning. From a fringe of woods directly in front -- the American force. First to finish walked quickly extricated his men from the attempted ambush and led them back to -- definitely position. Soon after he was ordered to overwhelm the enemy line. He rapidly organized his -- into a skirmish line and but indomitable courage again led them forward into the lethal enemy fire. When -- to the second time persecuted Schwab -- from man to man to supervise collection of the wounded and organize his company's withdrawal. From definitely he rallied his decimated force for a third charge on the hostile strong point and successfully worked his way to within fifty yards of the Germans. Before ordering his men to hit the -- -- automatic weapons fire blazed around him he rushed -- alone. Fired his car being at the German far -- Aiming for the -- enemy machine gun pistol nest which it sparked the German resistance and cost heavy casualties among his men. Silhouetted through the mist and rain by enemy -- he charged the German the placement. -- the half cover off a hostile firing it struck the German. -- on the head with his carbine but -- the -- back through a hail of fire -- friendly lines. First lieutenant Schwab's action so disorganized hostile infantry resistance that the enemy forces with true abandoning their formidable defensive line. First -- -- Schwab's extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty. -- keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. -- unit and the United States -- Ladies and gentlemen. It is very rare. Where we have the opportunity. To reflect on. The extraordinary courage. And patriotism. Such a remarkable. Collection. Of -- We are so grateful. To them. We are so grateful to their families. It makes us. Proud. And it makes us inspired. And so before we conclude the program I would ask. All those. Who have witnessed this extraordinary day -- please rise and give these. Latest recipients of the medal of honor. Several -- he goes who have been mixed. -- -- Money -- -- surrounded us with these great cloud of witnesses. -- that encouraged by their good example. May persevere -- completing the mission that is set before us. The legacy of the -- twenty fours and clinching courage and -- Dignity and devotion inspire our service to strengthen our spirits that we worked for -- true and lasting peace. This we ask your holy name. Meant. Thank you so much her -- this concludes our program but please. -- have an opportunity to enjoy the White House we're so grateful that all he had a chance to come god bless you god bless America. And -- includes a medal of honor ceremony and the White House there for 24 war veterans not until today recognize. When he won posthumously what today three. -- with the president -- the nation's second highest on I want to go to. Agencies that -- chances any by the Pentagon and -- we saw a single man who sees him and singled out -- president Yvonne Mitchell -- a veteran himself. Tell us about his remarkable story how did he help make that -- possible because it really is remarkable that twenty warnings we read today. It really is remarkable and -- -- -- really had. Started all of this he started the process. About fifty years ago -- writing to members of congress I'm writing to the Pentagon. -- urging that his friend Lenny Kravitz is -- his case be reviewed. As the -- potentially being worth. The medal of honor he had died in Korea this is childhood friend from Brooklyn. And he had died in Korea and received the distinguished service cross. He investigated his case and he said that I think he's worthy of the medal of honor he took his case to congress and eventually in 2002 congress. Said yes it is worth reviewing the cases. Jewish American veterans as well as Hispanic American veterans and that is what has led to today. 24 American veteran army veterans -- The medal of -- And prejudices perhaps. But now those that goes wrong that had been correctly. And in the process of investigating hundreds of cases that you heard the president talk about they also came stumbled upon additional cases. Of individuals who do not meet that criteria but who were found to be deserving of the medal of honor. And that's when we get the number 24 tell us more about the case of master sergeant Jose Rotella Vietnam veteran he was on hand today. You saw him there staring down as you receive as he citation was read. In his case obviously very moving for all of these and three living recipients and as well as for the families who are receiving. The award posthumously but who is who is there -- -- -- cases extraordinary. He -- his unit. Was pinned down by enemy fire in Vietnam. And his use is smaller squad his company was put in a position defensive position and he set them up. In such a way so that they had actually save their lives. But when the fire died down he stood up. And he was the only one in his unit to stand up because there were 33 wounded and eleven killed. Around him he then went on to other members of the unit to see if they were okay. And in the process. You know allow -- larger units of Italian. I had to move away from the -- fire the eighteen imagined just. Being under such withering fire and then. It dies and you look around and there's no one else to get -- -- you and you're the only one who's able to finish -- the job. The stories of bravery and the personal reflections that -- sure they're sharing now at the White House. Just absolutely amazing to -- Going back soon how today even came about -- we have an exact understanding of why he's there were overlooked in the first place was that on direct orders from seniors -- Right that -- there we should acknowledge for stuff that their -- had already been acknowledged these are all recipients of the distinguished service cross. This is the army's second highest -- award for valor. Just be -- and just beneath the medal of honor. And so -- some of these individuals their cases had been. Nominated for them to receive the medal of honor and were downgraded let's say in other cases. They had been nominee just received the distinguished service across but in and is investigators looked over their cases -- sitting in what you actually were more deserving in the medal of honor. -- the award that you received and in other cases there were paperwork foul ups that oh lead when they weren't potentially. There had been a recommendation -- for the medal of honor and instead. There were some crossed wires and they ended up with a distinguished service cross now. I'll tell you is -- interest thinks most of these men aren't resentful. They are. Feeling a very. -- -- -- -- that they're receiving the medal of honor about a month ago when the awards were first announced site. I spoke on the phone with Melvin Morse he's from Florida and I. You heard the president talk about his conversation there with him to notify him that he was receiving the award and he was incredulous. Well I was incredulous after my phone call with mr. -- BK is and what he told me. He told me that. -- he will when he was notified that he had received the distinguished service cross in Vietnam he was already on his way back to Vietnam. The case as you heard the president say he volunteered twice to go there -- action. And he didn't think it was that big any deal so he had just arrived in Vietnam ready to serve another combat tours. And he didn't think it was a big deal that he got the distinguished service cross the Stanley continued on and certain other tour. And continued on with couple more years in the military -- that that's extraordinary that an individual like that. You you heard what he did he went into fired three times. To rescue. The remains that is -- And his leadership. And protecting his squad mates and yet here he is -- returning to Vietnam for another voluntary tour. And he didn't think it was such a big deal it is getting -- -- and. He says you know he was he's very grateful. He says when when I asked him do you think it's. It's it's -- -- won't do you feel any bitterness he says. Not really. I mean it's better late than never but in me and I was just doing my job. A Vietnam veterans nine from Korea seven from World War II that's the breakdown. Have there -- steps taken to make sure that veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars are not our -- effect properly honored. Well then you bring up an interesting point because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have actually been noted for the a very slowly numbers of medals of honor that have been awarded. These are incidents. We've seen -- -- would -- over ten now. -- combined. In for Iraq and Afghanistan. And veterans' groups have been seeing lines have been numbers medals of -- in lower in these conflicts and previous conflicts like. Vietnam. -- Korean War and World War II. And in the response to get from the Pentagon is that -- -- their cases are reviewed. But that's. Some in some cases it's just not found TB. And rise to the level of the medal of honor and so that's why the numbers. In Iraq and Afghanistan have been very low now. We have seen this -- -- Jewish American and Hispanic American leading -- -- 24. Did in previous reviews that have led to. Part of the cases of Asian Americans and African Americans -- that led to you. On an additional American veterans receiving the medal of honor so potentially -- future years we could be seeing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans cases being reviewed and what's interesting and. The metal -- you have about two years and with which Q. Nominate someone and then after that the statute of limitations -- -- and it -- congressional action. For -- there it is an individual's case to be reviewed. Which isn't how we ended up in this case back in 2002 congress mandating. The army -- its case is a distinguished cross this that the distinguished service cross recipients and now. And of course you can follow up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news at and -- the story for updates on ago. For now though I'm Dan Clifford New York with his ABC -- -- -- In the thick of the fight. All those years ago. For your comrades in your country. You refused to yield. On behalf of a grateful nation. We all want to thank you for inspiring us. Then and now. -- your strength. You will. And your Aurora courts. Please give them big -- before.
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