List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients

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The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War. It is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal it is commonly presented after the recipient has been killed (posthumously).[1]

Forty-four men of Hispanic heritage have been presented the Medal of Honor. Two were presented to members of the United States Navy. Thirteen to members of the United States Marine Corps. Twenty-nine to members of the United States Army. Twenty-five Medals of Honor were presented posthumously.[2]

The first recipient was Corporal Joseph H. De Castro of the Union Army for his actions at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 3, 186. He earned his in the American Civil War. The most recent recipient is Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry for his actions in Afghanistan. Corporal De Castro was a member of the Massachusetts Infantry. This militia was not part of the "regular" army. Private David Bennes Barkley was a member of the regular army during World War I and has been recognized as the Army's first Hispanic Medal of Honor recipient.[3] In 1864, Seaman John Ortega became the first Hispanic member of the U.S. Navy to receive the Medal of Honor and in 1900, Private France Silva became the first person of Hispanic descent in the U.S. Marine Corps to receive the medal.[4]

Ten recipients were born outside the United States mainland. One each in Chile and Spain. Four in Mexico and four in Puerto Rico. Seaman Philip Bazaar from Chile received the medal in January 1865 and Seaman John Ortega from Spain in December 1865. The first native Mexican recipient was Staff Sergeant Marcario Garcia and the first Puerto Rican was PFC Fernando Luis Garcia.[5] 1st Lt. Rudolph B. Davila, of Hispanic-Filipino descent, was the only person of Filipino ancestry to receive the medal for his actions in the war in Europe during World War II.[6] Private Joe P. Martinez was the first Hispanic-American recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for combat heroism on American soil during the same conflict.[7] 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez, is the only Hispanic graduate of the United States Naval Academy recipient of the Medal of Honor.[8] Captain Humbert Roque Versace was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor to be given to an Army POW for his actions during captivity in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.[9]

Terminology[change | change source]

Hispanic is an ethnic term employed to categorize any citizen or resident of the United States. They can be of any racial background, of any country, and of any religion, who has at least one ancestor from the people of Spain. They can also be of non-Hispanic origin but has an ancestor from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central or South America, or other Hispanic origin. The three largest Hispanic groups in the United States are the Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans.[10]

American Civil War[change | change source]

Three Hispanic Americans earned the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War. Two were sailors of the Union Navy and one was a soldier of the 19th Massachusetts Infantry.

  This with the   indicates that the Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously

Image Name Rank Branch Unit Place of action Date of action Notes/Reference
Philip Bazaar Ordinary Seaman Navy Massachusetts, USS Santiago de Cuba Assault on Fort Fisher January 15, 1865 "As one of a boat crew detailed to one of the generals on shore, O.S. Bazaar bravely entered the fort in the assault and accompanied his party in carrying dispatches at the height of the battle. He was 1 of 6 men who entered the fort in the assault from the fleet"[11]
Joseph H. De Castro Corporal Army Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry Gettysburg, Pennsylvania July 3, 1863 Attacked a confederate flag bearer from the 19th Virginia Infantry regiment and captured their flag.[11]
John Ortega Seaman Navy USS Saratoga USS Saratoga December 1864 Was a member of a landing party who made several raids in August and September 1864 which resulted in the capture of many confederate prisoners and the taking or destruction of substantial quantities of ordnance, ammunition, and supplies. A number of buildings, bridges, and salt works were also destroyed during the expedition[12]

Boxer rebellion[change | change source]

During the Boxer rebellion only one Hispanic American received the Medal of Honor and that was France Silva who earned it for "distinguishing himself for meritorious conduct".

  This with the   indicates that the Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously

Image Name Rank Branch Unit Place of action Date of action Notes/Reference
France Silva Private Marine Corps USS Newark Peking, China June 28, 1900August 17, 1900 For distinguishing himself by meritorlous conduct[13]

World War I[change | change source]

Image Name Rank Branch Unit Place of action Date of action Notes/Reference
David B. Barkley  Private Army Company A, 356th Infantry,
89th Division
Near Pouilly, France November 9, 1918 Volunteered to swim a river to gather information on an enemy force. When he was swimming back across the river he got cramps and drowned.[14]

World War II[change | change source]

  This with the   indicates that the Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously

Image Name Branch Rank Unit Place of action Date of action Notes/Reference
Lucian Adams Staff Sergeant Army 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division St. Die, France October 1944 "[P]ersonally killed 9 Germans, eliminated 3 enemy machineguns, vanquished a specialized force which was armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers, cleared the woods of hostile elements, and reopened the severed supply lines to the assault companies of his battalion."[15]
Rudolph B. Davila Staff Sergeant Army Company H, 7th Infantry Artena, Italy May 28, 1944 Risked his life to defeat an attacking force of enemy soldiers.[15]
Marcario Garcia Staff Sergeant Army Company B, 22d Infantry, 4th Infantry Division Near Grosshau, Germany November 27, 1944 "While an acting squad leader, he single-handedly assaulted two enemy machine gun emplacements"[16]
Harold Gonsalves  Private First Class Marine Corps 4th Battalion, 15th Marines
6th Marine Division
Ryūkyū Chain, Okinawa April 15, 1945 Sacrificed his life to smother a grenade with his body[16]
David M. Gonzales  Private First Class Army Company A, 127th Infantry, 32 Infantry Division Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands April 25, 1945 Was killed in action in the Philippines while digging out fellow soldiers who had been buried in a bomb explosion[16]
Silvestre S. Herrera Private First Class Army Company E, 142d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division Near Mertzwiller, France March 15, 1945 Injured in action while charging an enemy stronghold resulting in the capture of eight enemy soldiers[16]
Jose M. Lopez Sergeant Army 2d Infantry Division Near Krinkelt, Belgium December 17, 1944 Single-handedly repulsed a German infantry attack, killing at least 100 enemy troops[16]
Joe P. Martinez  Private Army Company K, 32d Infantry, 7th Infantry Division Attu, Aleutians May 26, 1943 Killed in action while participating in the defeat of enemy forces in a snow covered mountain.[17]
Manuel Perez Jr.  Private First Class Army Company A 511th Parachute Infantry, 11th Airborne Division Fort William McKinley, Luzon, Philippine Islands February 13, 1945 Killed 18 enemy soldiers and that they were in so his company could advance[17]
Cleto L. Rodriguez Private Army Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Division Paco Railroad Station, Manila, Philippine Islands February 9, 1945 With another soldier, who was killed in the action, killed more than 82 Japanese, completely disorganized their defense, and allowed for the enemy to be defeatede[17]
Alejandro R. Ruiz Private First Class Army 165th Infantry, 27th Infantry Division Okinawa April 28, 1945 Risked his life to eliminate an enemy pillbox and kill the 12 enemy soldiers who were occupying it[17]
Jose F. Valdez  Private First Class Army Company B, 7th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division Rosenkrantz, France January 25, 1945 [18]
Ysmael R. Villegas  Staff Sergeant Army Company F, 127th Infantry, 32d Infantry Division Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands March 20, 1945 [18]

Korean War[change | change source]

  This with the   indicates that the Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously

Image Name Rank Branch Unit Place of action Date of action Notes/Reference
Fernando Luis García  Private First Class Marine Corps Company I
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines
1st Marine Division
Korea September 5, 1952 [19]
Edward Gomez  Private First Class Marine Corps Company E
2nd Battalion, 1st Marines
1st Marine Division
Kajon-ni, Korea September 14, 1951 [19]
Ambrosio Guillen  Staff Sergeant Marine Corps Company F
2nd Battalion, 7th Marines
1st Marine Division
Songuch-on, Korea July 25, 1953 [19]
Rodolfo P. Hernandez Corporal Army Company G, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team Near Wontong-ni, Korea May 31, 1951 [19]
Baldomero Lopez  First Lieutenant Marine Corps Company A
1st Battalion, 5th Marines
1st Marine Division
Inchon Landing, Korea September 15, 1950 [19]
Benito Martinez  Corporal Army Company A, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division Satacri, Korea September 6, 1952 [19]
Eugene Arnold Obregon  Private First Class Marine Corps Company G
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines
1st Marine Division
Battle of Seoul September 26, 1950 [19]
Joseph C. Rodriguez Private First Class Army Company F, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division Near Munye-ri, Korea May 21, 1951 [19]

Vietnam War[change | change source]

  This with the   indicates that the Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously

Image Name Rank Branch Unit Place of action Date of action Notes/Reference
John P. Baca Specialist Four Army Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division Phuoc Long Province February 10, 1970 [20]
Benavidez.jpg Roy P. Benavidez Master Sergeant Army Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Loc Ninh, Vietnam May 2, 1968 [20]
Emilio A. De La Garza  Lance Corporal Marine Corps Company E
2nd Battalion, 1st Marines
Da Nang April 11, 1970 [20]
Ralph E. Dias  Private First Class Marine Corps 1st Battalion, 7th Marines Quang Nam Province November 12, 1969 [20]
Daniel Fernandez  Specialist Four Army Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry (Mechanized) 25th Infantry Division Hau Nghia Province February 18, 1966 [20]
Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez  Sergeant Marine Corps Company A
1st Battalion, 1st Marines
Hue City February 4, 1968 [20]
A head and shoulders portrait of a young, cleanshaven man, wearing a formal military uniform and a hat. Jose Francisco Jimenez  Lance Corporal Marine Corps Company K
3rd Battalion, 7th Marines
1st Marine Division
Quang Nam Province August 28, 1969 [20]
alt=A head and shoulders portrait of a young, cleanshaven man with dark hair, wearing a formal military uniform and a hat. Miguel Keith  Lance Corporal Marine Corps III Marine Amphibious Force Quang Ngai Province May 8, 1970 [20]
Carlos Lozada  Private First Class Army Company A, 2nd Battalion, 502d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade Dak To November 20, 1967 [20]
A head and upper body portrait of a middle-aged, cleanshaven man with dark hair, wearing a formal military uniform with many medals on the front. A five-pointed gold star hangs from a blue ribbon around his neck. Alfred V. Rascon Specialist Four Army Reconnaissance Platoon, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne),
503rd Infantry,173d Airborne Brigade
Republic of Vietnam March 16, 1966 [21]
A head and shoulders portrait of a cleanshaven man with dark hair, wearing a military uniform. Louis R. Rocco Sergeant First Class Army Advisory Team 162, United States Military Assistance Command Northeast of Katum, Republic of Vietnam May 24, 1970 [21]
Euripides Rubio  Captain Army Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division Tay Ninh Province November 8, 1966 [21]
A head and torso portrait of a man wearing a helmet and military uniform. Hector Santiago-Colon  Specialist Four Army Company B, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (airmobile) Quang Tri Province June 28, 1968 [21]
Elmelindo Rodrigues Smith  Sergeant First Class Army Company C, 2d Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division Republic of Vietnam February 16, 1967 [21]
Jay R. Vargas Captain Marine Corps Company G
2nd Battalion, 4th Marines
9th Marine Amphibious Brigade
Dai Do April 30, 1968May 2, 1968 [21]
A head and shoulders portrait of a young, cleanshaven man with dark hair, wearing a military uniform. He is smiling broadly. Humbert Roque Versace  Captain Army Detachment A-23, 5th Special Forces Group An Xuyen Province October 29, 1963September 26, 1965 [21]
Maximo Yabes  First Sergeant Army Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division Near Phu Hoa Dong February 26, 1967 [21]

War in Afghanistan[change | change source]

Image Name Rank Branch Unit Place of action Date of action Notes/Reference
Leroy A Petry.jpg Leroy Petry Sergeant First Class Army 75th Ranger Regiment Afghanistan May 26, 2008 An enemy threw a grenade at their position which landed 10 meters from them; it detonated, knocked them to the ground, wounded Higgins, and Robinson was further wounded.[22][23] Shortly thereafter the three were joined by SSG James Roberts and SPC Christopher Gathercole. Another grenade was thrown by an enemy which landed a few feet from Higgins and Robinson. Petry, knowing the risk to his life, moved toward the grenade, picked it up, and attempted to throw it in the direction of the enemy.[22][24][23][25]

By military branch[change | change source]

Awards by branch of service
Military
branch
Posthumously In person Number of
awards
Army 14 15 29
Marines 11 2 13
Navy 0 2 2
Total 25 19 44

Note: The information in "Awards by branch of service Table" is based on the sourced information on the "List of Recipients Table".

References[change | change source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. "A Brief History — The Medal of Honor". Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Department of Defense. August 8, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  2. "Hispanic American Medal of Honor recipients". United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  3. Medal of Honor recipient of Hispanic Heritage, Hispanic America USA, Retrieved December 31, 2012
  4. Local hero no longer forgotten, RetrievedDecember 31, 2012 Archive copy at the Internet Archive
  5. Puerto Rican Medal of Honor recipients, Oakland Tribune, Retrieved December 31, 2012
  6. "Hispanic of Filipino ancestry to receive the medal". Somos Primos. Somos Primos. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  7. 22 Asian Americans Inducted into Hall of Heroes, El Boricua, Retrieved December 31, 2012
  8. 1st Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez, USMC, Association of Naval Services Officers, Retrieved December 31, 2012
  9. Mishalov, Neil; Versace MoH Citation excerpts from:The Washington Post, July 8, 2002; By Steve Vogel, The Washington Times; July 4, 2002; By Ellen Sorokin; The Washington Post; May 27, 2001; Stars and Stripes; January 18, 2001; By Dave Eberhart, Stars and Stripes Veterans Affairs Editor, Stars and Stripes; July 18, 2000; By Dave Eberhart, Stars and Stripes Veterans Affairs Editor and Stars and Stripes; Oct 7, 2000; By Mike Faber, Stars and Stripes Contributing Writer, Retrieved December 31, 2012
  10. Hispanic Population of the United States: Current Population - Survey Definition and Background, United States Census Bureau, November 2, 2000, Retrieved December 31, 2012
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Medal of Honor recipients - Civil War A-L". United States Army Center of Military History. August 6, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  12. "Medal of Honor recipients - Civil War M-Z". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  13. "Medal of Honor recipients - China Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  14. "Medal of Honor recipients - World War I". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (A–F)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (G–L)". U.S. United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.[dead link]
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (M-S)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (T–Z)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 "Medal of Honor recipients - Korean War". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.7 20.8 "Medal of Honor recipients - Vietnam (A-L)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 21.6 21.7 "Medal of Honor recipients - Vietnam (M-Z)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Wounded Soldier to receive Medal of Honor for action in Afghanistan". Army News Service. United States Army. 1 June 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Jason Ukman (12 July 2011). "Leroy Petry, Army Ranger, awarded Medal of Honor". Washington Post. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  24. "Wash. soldier awarded Medal of Honor". KGW. 12 July 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  25. "Latino Soldier Receives Medal of Honor"; By Damarys Ocana

Other websites[change | change source]

  • Ricardo Romo (August 22, 1997). "Above and Beyond". UT Discovery Magazine. Retrieved December 31, 2012.