Yesterday marked the end of a 12-year review by the Pentagon when 24 soldiers from WWII to Vietnam, who were denied the award they earned, finally received their Medals Of Honor. One of the most startling aspects of this amazing tale of forgotten heroes finally receiving their due is that the media is almost ignoring it.
From the Army Times:
- Sgt. Candelario Garcia, for his courageous actions as an acting Team Leader for Company B, 1st Battalion, 2d Infantry, 1st Brigade,1st Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Lai Khe, South Vietnam on December 8, 1968.
- Spec. 4 Leonard L. Alvarado, for his courageous actions while serving as a rifleman with Company D, 2d Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) during operations in Phuoc Long Province, South Vietnam, on August 12, 1969.
- Staff Sgt. Felix M. Conde-Falcon, who served as an acting platoon leader in Company D, 1st Battalion, 505th Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division in Ap Tan Hoa, South Vietnam, on April 4, 1969.
- Spec. 4 Ardie R. Copas, for his actions serving as a machinegunner in Company C, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, near Pho Romeas Hek, Cambodia, on May 12, 1970.
- Spec. 4 Jesus S. Duran, for his actions while serving as an acting M-60 machinegunner in Company E, 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in South Vietnam on April 10, 1969.
- Corp. Joe R. Baldonado, for his actions serving as an acting machinegunner in 3d Squad, 2d Platoon, Company B, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment in Kangdong, Korea, on November 25, 1950.
- Corp. Victor H. Espinoza, for his actions while serving as an Acting Rifleman in Company A, 23d Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division during operations in Chorwon, Korea, on August 1, 1952.
- Sgt. Eduardo C. Gomez, for his actions serving with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, in Tabu-dong, Korea, on September 3, 1950.
- PFC Leonard M. Kravitz, for his actions serving as an assistant machinegunner with Company M, 5th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division in Yangpyong, Korea, on March 6 and 7, 1951.
- Master Sgt. Juan E. Negron, for his actions serving as a member of Company L, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in Kalma-Eri, Korea, on April 28, 1951.
- Master Sgt. Mike C. Pena, for his actions serving as a member of Company F, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, in Waegwan, Korea, on September 4, 1950.
- Pvt. Demensio Rivera, for his actions serving as an automatic rifleman with 2d Platoon, Company G, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in Changyong-ni, Korea, on May 23, 1951.
- Pvt. Miguel A. Vera, for his actions serving as an automatic rifleman with Company F, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division in Chorwon, Korea, on September 21, 1952.
- Sgt. Jack Weinstein, for his actions leading 1st Platoon, Company G, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division in Kumsong, Korea on October 19, 1951.
- Pvt. Pedro Cano, for his actions while serving with Company C, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division during operations in Schevenhutte, Germany, on December 3, 1944.
- Pvt. Joe Gandara for his actions serving with Company D, 2d Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division in Amfreville, France on June 9, 1944.
- PFC Salvador J. Lara for his actions serving as leader of a rifle squad with 2d Platoon, Company L, 180th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division in Aprilia, Italy, on May 27 and 28, 1944.
- Sgt. William F. Leonard, for his actions serving as a squad leader in Company C, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, near St. Die, France on November 7, 1944.
- Sgt. Manuel V. Mendoza, for his actions serving as a platoon sergeant with Company B, 350th Infantry, 88th Infantry Division on Mount Battaglia, Italy, on October 4, 1944.
- Sgt. Alfred B. Nietzel, for his actions serving as a section leader for Company H, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division in Heistern, Germany, on November 18, 1944.
- Lt. Donald K. Schwab, for his actions serving as commander of Company E, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, near Lure, France, on September 17, 1944
“...Army Sgt. Ashley Randall never knew her grandfather, never knew of his heroism in Korea, until President Obama told her that she was next of kin to a Medal of Honor recipient. “I didn’t know anything, not even his name,” Randall said of her grandfather, Army Pvt. Demensio Rivera, who was killed at age 18 in Korea during an enemy assault. On behalf of her grandfather, Randall will be one of many relatives at the White House on Tuesday to accept the nation’s highest award for valor from Obama in a ceremony honoring 24 Army veterans whose Distinguished Service Cross medals were upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Randall, 25, of Portsmouth, Va., said she was serving at Camp Voelke in Afghanistan’s Regional Command-North last May, transporting supplies to Forward Operating Bases, when word came down one night that she was to report to the colonel and the first sergeant — immediately. She feared the worst. Her squad leader asked: “What did you do?” There was confusion when she was told that she had a relative who fought in Korea whose DSC was being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. “I believed they had the wrong person,” Randall said. She only knew that her estranged father had served in Vietnam, and had never heard of a grandfather who fought in Korea.
The next day, Obama phoned Camp Voelke. “Hello Ashley,” the commander-in-chief greeted the sergeant. “I recognized his voice and I snapped into a position of attention — as if he could see me,” Randall said….”
“…On Nov. 7, 1944, in France, then-Pfc. Leonard led survivors of his platoon in an assault. Though shot in the neck and back, he took out two machine gun crews before capturing the German position.
On Nov. 8, 1944, in Germany, Sgt. Nietzel stopped the enemy from overrunning his unit. He selflessly covered members of his squad and held his post until he was killed.
On March 6, 1951, in Korea, Pfc. Kravitz (uncle of rocker Lenny Kravitz) refused orders to retreat. Instead, he covered his fellow soldiers with protective fire until he was felled by the Chinese Communists….”
“…Libman, by contrast, described in detail his late friend Leonard M. Kravitz, the uncle and namesake of rock musician Lenny Kravitz, who attended Tuesday’s ceremony. Libman called Leonard Kravitz a sweet and unassuming kid from Brooklyn who liked hanging out in a candy store with his friends.
“He was not the hero type, he was not the great athlete, but he was a good guy, and I made sure he was always involved in everything that I did,” Libman told reporters this week. “We grew up together. We all hung out in the candy store in Brooklyn, and in that candy store, you would find notes from one another.”
It was in that same store that Libman learned that Kravitz had earned the Distinguished Service Cross for the Army. Kravitz died in March 1951 while serving as an assistant machine gunner with Company M, 5th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division during combat in Yangpyong, Korea.
Libman said that while “you don’t usually argue about it,” given that it is the military’s second-highest honor, he thought Kravitz deserved more.
“I came to the conclusion that they don’t give Jews the Medal of Honor. And it was pretty accurate,” said Libman, who persuaded then-Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) to push legislation calling for the Pentagon review. “However, things have changed for the better. And he got what he deserved. He got the Medal of Honor, and quite a few others got it, too. So it made my life worth something.”
Libman said the president told him in May 2012 that the heroism of Kravitz and others would be recognized. “He was really very good,” Libman said of Obama. “He said: ‘You know, this is not something we can do overnight. We can’t do it next week.’ I said, ‘That’s fine, the week after would be great.’ He totally cracked up.”…”
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These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives just so others may get to enjoy freedom. For that I am proud to call them Hero.
Those Who Say That We’re In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don’t Know Where To Look
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