VIDEO: Melvin Morris of Cocoa Receives Medal of Honor

By  //  March 19, 2014

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ABOVE VIDEO: WATCH LIVE CEREMONY FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: Melvin Morris of Cocoa Was Presented the Medal of Honor

Melvin Morris of Cocoa will received the the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Vietnam in on Sept. 17, 1969. (U.S. Army image)

Melvin Morris of Cocoa will received the the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Vietnam in on Sept. 17, 1969. (U.S. Army image)

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – Melvin Morris of Cocoa was among 24 Army veterans that President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor on March 18.

Melvin Morris of Cocoa will be among 24 Army veterans that President Barack Obama will award the Congressional Medal of Honor on March 18. (U.S. Army image)

Melvin Morris of Cocoa will be among 24 Army veterans that President Barack Obama will award the Congressional Medal of Honor on March 18. (U.S. Army image)

The White House said that most of the awardees are Hispanic or Jewish who were passed over for the nation’s highest military award because of their race or ethnicity.

Morris, 80, is one of just three recipients who are still alive. He received the Distinguished Service Cross instead of the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Vietnam on Sept. 17, 1969.

 “I was proud of what I got. As far as I was concerned, I was highly decorated. I was living and highly decorated.” But to be given the Medal of Honor after all these years, he said, “You can’t feel but good.”

Melvin Morris

Melvin Morris

According to the U.S. Army account, Staff Sgt. Morris was in command of a Special Forces strike force near Chi Lang, South Vietnam. Despite being hit three times by enemy fire, he retrieved a map from a dead American soldier that included vital strategic information.

Morris told the New York Times, “I was proud of what I got. As far as I was concerned, I was highly decorated. I was living and highly decorated.” But to be given the Medal of Honor after all these years, he said, “You can’t feel but good.”

U.S. ARMY REVIEWED 6,505 DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS WINNERS

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 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 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.

LIVING RECIPIENTS

Spec. 4 Santiago J. Erevia, left, and Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rodela. (U.S. Army image)

Spec. 4 Santiago J. Erevia, left, and Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rodela. (U.S. Army images)

• Spec. 4 Santiago J. Erevia of San Antonio, for courage during a search and clear mission near Tam Ky, South Vietnam, on May 21, 1969
• Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rodela of San Antonio for courage during combat operations in Phuoc Long province in South Vietnam on Sept. 1, 1969.

POSTHUMOUS RECIPIENTS

WORLD WAR II

• 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 in Hooper, Neb., for courageous actions during combat operations near Lure, France, on Sept. 17, 1944.

KOREAN WAR

• 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.

VIETNAM WAR

• 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.

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