President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans for gallantry displayed in past conflicts, the White House announced Friday. All but three of the recipients will be awarded the medal posthumously.
“These veterans will receive the Medal of Honor in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War,” the White House statement read. “Each of these Soldiers’ bravery was previously recognized by award of the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military award; that award will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor in recognition of their gallantry, intrepidity and heroism above and beyond the call of duty.”
The recipients resulted from a congressionally mandated review of war records of Jewish and Hispanic American soldiers. The review sought to find those who had been denied the Medal of Honor because of prejudice.
“In 2002, Congress, through the Defense Authorization Act, called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veteran war records from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, to ensure those deserving the Medal of Honor were not denied because of prejudice,” read the statement.
During the review, many soldiers of neither Hispanic or Jewish decent were found to have displayed heroism on the battlefield that was worthy of the medal.
The living recipients of the award include: Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris of the Vietnam War, Master Sgt. Jose Rodela of the Vietnam War and Spc. Santiago Erevia of the Vietnam War.
Recipients who will be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously include:
• Staff Sgt. Salvador J. Lara, WWII
• Pvt. Pedro Cano, WWII
• Sgt. Alfred B. Nietzel, WWII
• 1st Lt. Donald K. Schwab, WWII
• Pfc. William F. Leonard, WWII
• Staff Sgt. Mauel V. Mendoza,WWII
• Pvt. Joe Gandara, WWII
• Sgt. Jesus Duran, Vietnam War
• Staff Sgt. Felix Conde-Falcon, Vietnam War
• Spc. Leonard Alvarado, Vietnam War
• Sgt. Candelario Garcia, Vietnam War
• Spc. Ardie Copas, Vietnam War
• Cpl. Victor H. Espinoza, Korea
• Sgt. Juan E. Negron, Korea Pvt.
• Miguel Armando “Nando” Vera, Korea
• Pfc. Demensio Rivera, Korea
• Sgt. Jack Weinstein, Korea
• Pfc. Leonard M. Kravitz, Korea
• Sgt. Eduardo Corral Gomez, Korea
• Cpl Joe R. Baldonado, Korea
• Master Sgt. Michael C. Pena, Korea