On Tuesday, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans — 17 Latinos (including Sgt. Eduardo C. Gomez, Master Sgt. Mike C. Pena and Pvt. Miguel A. Vera) plus five Jewish vets.
The ceremony ends a Congress-ordered review of old battlefield heroism potentially overlooked by past commanders due to ethnic prejudices.
But when it comes to that elite, gold-plated star — awarded for valor “beyond the call of duty” — some Latino veterans say such racial biases remain entrenched at the Pentagon.
“This recognition was long overdue. Too bad only three of the 24 are still living,” said Richard Valdez, 66, head of the Disabled American Veterans in California and a retired Marine. “I suspect there are others” of Latino descent who are similarly worthy.
The latest recipients served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. All previously had earned the military’s second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross. Since the Civil War, fewer than 3,500 of the Medals of Honor have been granted. But some critics have long asserted the top commendation has been steered by ethnic favoritism
March 18, 2014, 10:12am / 30