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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

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Mary February 22 2014 at 10:08 AM

How many others were passed over for a medal? Obama again..."picks and chooses" who to honor.
EVERY one that serves this country deserves a medal..!!!!!! No Matter the color of skin,or what God they believe in! That's Obama at it again.....!!! praising a few NOT all !!!

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2 replies
Ron Mary February 22 2014 at 10:43 AM

Did you miss the paragraph about :"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"? It was done in 2002!!!!! Duh

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sriverrat11 Mary February 22 2014 at 10:53 AM

Mary, I mostly like your sentiments, except if everyone gets a medal, it cheapens the EXTRAORDINARY acts. I served, but I just did my job. Eagleman, on the other hand sounds extremely deserving( don't know a racist pog stopped it but)

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Kevin Caldwell February 22 2014 at 8:27 AM

Lets be clear this has nothing to do with Obama. To be honest if Obama had any class he would invite Bush and members of the JCOS to join him on March 18. But as always it's all about "Obama".

"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."

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1 reply
bill @ pat Kevin Caldwell February 22 2014 at 8:54 AM

You parroted what you just read. Why do you bring up PRESIDENT O BAMA. It sounds a bit racsist which is why this ceramony is being held now.GEORGE BUSH ran from his duty to fight for his country when he was called. Congress and only Congress had anything to do with giving this honor.So pack up your racsist crap and crawl back under your rock.

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1 reply
hanna vanhoose bill @ pat February 22 2014 at 9:38 AM

actually kevin is right bill and pat. he said NOTHING racist whatsoever. I think that title belongs to you. as for congress, they don't even use the bathroom without permission from Obama, so pack up your racist hallucinations and get help.

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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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carnut122 February 22 2014 at 9:41 AM

We all bleed the same when we fight for our country. I'm sure this is long overdue.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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..

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2 replies
alvertis4 cbcmkt February 22 2014 at 12:59 PM

and put who in office....

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1 reply
cedatty alvertis4 February 22 2014 at 1:52 PM

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

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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.

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1 reply
cedatty Bev February 22 2014 at 1:53 PM

Biden is his insurance policy.

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cjgdnight February 22 2014 at 8:07 AM

Lets see... how can we save money? I know... lets look up every ethnic record in the last three wars and see if they receive an upgraded medal.... excellent idea. Expensive and not worth it, but great idea.

The waste of such incredible time, effort and energy on things that don't matter is staggering.

BTW I am a retired combat vet and while medals are nice.... GRANDCHILDREN are nicer. These guys fought bravely... they got recognized... they are very old or dead.... the living have lived full lives knowing what they did to save others.... almost all vets I know (that would be many) don't really give a @@@@ about medals... they all ask themselves "why did (insert name) die and not me when I was standing right next to him?" The medal is, at best, an afterthought. Huge money and effort has been wasted to conduct this exercise.... and if the administration wanted to do something relevant, it would tout how many medals have been given recently to these ethnic groups... FYI there has been constant combat since 2003 and even though Obama promised to stop... well... there you go!

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myste98325 February 22 2014 at 12:21 PM

This is all for show, he knows he is low man on the totem pole when it comes to the military. I think he's trying to keep up with President Bush, who has ALWAYS supported the millitary and has all the years, since he has been out of office.Geo Bush often shows up to greet our returning men and women at airports and hospitals. I thank every service person I see, and say GOD BLESS YOU AND THANKS FOR SERVEING.

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3 replies
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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