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Obama to award Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans



WASHINGTON (AP) - 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 had already been recognized with the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest military award. Only three of the recipients are living.

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 three living recipients are all veterans of the Vietnam War:

- Spc. 4 Santiago J. Erevia of San Antonio, for courage during a search and clear mission near Tam Ky, South Vietnam, on May 21, 1969.

- Staff Sgt. Melvin Morris of Cocoa, Fla., for courageous actions during combat operations in the vicinity of Chi Lang, South Vietnam, on Sept 17, 1969.

- Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rodela of San Antonio for courage during combat operations in Phuoc Long province, South Vietnam, on Sept. 1, 1969.

Posthumous recipients:

-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.

Join the discussion

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SOMBODY SPECIAL February 22 2014 at 9:14 AM

What part of "Congressionally Mandated Review" all so many folks missing here?

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2 replies
ARCHANGEL172000 SOMBODY SPECIAL February 22 2014 at 9:28 AM

They see only what THEY WANT TO SEE. Which is kind of familiar in this country!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
BOB SOMBODY SPECIAL February 22 2014 at 10:17 AM

And whos idea was it io impanel this review? King Obamas cronies?

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pcclsky February 22 2014 at 10:13 AM

I'm actually not saying anything anti-Obama on this one. All he's doing in this case is serving up the "final result" of an act of Congress and the military. I think normally this would not have been an issue except the media made a headline about Obama so it could start a controversy and have people rant and rave.

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sgtwal February 22 2014 at 10:44 AM

What received the MOH in WW2 was often not enough by the time Korea came around. The same was true in Vietnam when the actions of Korea vets set the standard for the medal.
I very much doubt that ethnicity had anything to do with it in Vietnam. It was just that the bar was so high by then, that soldiers who threw themselves on grenades to save others would get a Silver Star and a Purple heart rather than a nomination for the MOH.
Combat soldiers are color blind when it comes to their squad mates.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
bleustorm February 22 2014 at 11:18 AM

affirmitive action ?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
singfourpartlead February 22 2014 at 9:17 AM

Thank you to each and every veteran that is receiving this highest award. Well deserved, I salute you all. Thanks for your service. Live well survivors and rest in peace those that have past. A 23 year Navy vet. Bless you all.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
eaafoster February 22 2014 at 11:41 AM

If these men deserve the MOH, good for them, but none of the articles about this indicate why someone decided there had been any discrimination. Who decided that only the minority recepients, primarily Jewish and Hispanic, of the DSC where actually due the MOH because of "potential bias."

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cbearking February 22 2014 at 11:50 AM

Congrats to all that are receiving recognition and acknowledgement for their service to our country.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
FERNANDO February 22 2014 at 7:02 AM

FOR SOME IF YOU IS ONLY POLITICS BUT FOR MOST OF US VIET-NAM VETS IS A LIFE OF GRIEVANCES...WE CAN PUT IT AWAY BUT WE CAN NOT FORGET.IF YOU DO NOT KNOW US READ ABOUT IT THEN SAY WHAT U WANT..IS UR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT..

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Herb February 22 2014 at 12:06 PM

I'm a WWII Vet and participated in four major battles while serving in the U. S. Navy in the Pacific-Asia theater, I witnessed so many unamed heros first hand and sorry they all couldn't be named and honored.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
jh Herb February 22 2014 at 12:10 PM

Thank you for your service to our nation.God bless you for making america great.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
cbcmkt February 22 2014 at 12:08 PM

The greatest award he could offer is his resignation or perhaps simply commit Sepuku..I would offer to sharpen the blade..

Flag Reply +9 rate up
2 replies
alvertis4 cbcmkt February 22 2014 at 12:59 PM

and put who in office....

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
cedatty alvertis4 February 22 2014 at 1:52 PM

Biden should go with him. Then, President Boehner? We are really in trouble.

Flag 0 rate up
Bev cbcmkt February 22 2014 at 12:59 PM

Yes, he needs to resign, but we all know that he loves power too much, and that will never happen.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
cedatty Bev February 22 2014 at 1:53 PM

Biden is his insurance policy.

Flag +1 rate up
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