24 soldiers will be given the Medal of Honor, including 19 Jewish, Hispanic and African Americans who the Pentagon now admits were discriminated against in the past because of their ethnic backgrounds. The recipients include New York City natives Sgt. Alfred B. Nietze, “for courageous actions during combat operations in Heistern, Germany, on November 18, 1944, and Pfc. Leonard M. Kravitz, who was killed during combat in Yangpyong, Korea, on March 6-7, 1951.
Sadly, only three of the soldiers being honored are still alive, all Vietnam veterans who served in 1969. They are Spc. 4 Santiago J. Erevia of San Antonio, TX, “for courage during a search and rescue mission near Tam Kay May 29, 1969;” Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rodela, also of San Antonio, for “courage during combat in Phuoc Long province September 1, 1969; and Staff Sgt. Melvin Morris of Cocoa Beach, FL, “for heroism during combat near Chi Lang September 17, 1969.
“We are very proud of these soldiers,” stated Lt. Col. Alayne Conway, a spokesperson for the Army.
The Medal of Honor, presented by the President in “the name of congress” is the highest military honor given in the United States, and is awarded to US military personnel only for personal acts of valor “above and beyond the call of duty. To date 3,468 Medals of Honor have been awarded since it was created in 1861. Honorees have served in the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as Marines and coastguard, with three different designs (seen above) designated for heroes of land, sea and air.
President Obama will present the Medals at a special ceremony to right the terrible wrong perpetrated against these outstanding men March 18th for more than 60 years.