Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day: 'A medal, a debt, both of honor'

Memorial DayOn April 25, 1945, U.S. Army Pfc. David M. Gonzales walked directly into heavy sniper fire in an attempt to save the lives of three men on the Villa Verde trail in the Philippines.

He dug out three soldiers, all buried by a massive bomb blast before a sniper finally got him.

Gonzales died and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Read the story: 'A medal, a debt, both of honor' by John Faherty, The Arizona Republic

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the "highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States," according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

Here is the official citation for David M. Gonzales:

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company A, 127th Infantry, 32nd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 25 April 1945.

Citation: He was pinned down with his company. As enemy fire swept the area, making any movement extremely hazardous, a 500-pound bomb smashed into the company's perimeter, burying 5 men with its explosion.

Pfc. Gonzales, without hesitation, seized an entrenching tool and under a hail of fire crawled 15 yards to his entombed comrades, where his commanding officer, who had also rushed forward, was beginning to dig the men out.

Nearing his goal, he saw the officer struck and instantly killed by machine gun fire. Undismayed, he set to work swiftly and surely with his hands and the entrenching tool while enemy sniper and machine gun bullets struck all about him.

He succeeded in digging one of the men out of the pile of rock and sand. To dig faster he stood up regardless of the greater danger from so exposing himself. He extricated a second man, and then another. As he completed the liberation of the third, he was hit and mortally wounded, but the comrades for whom he so gallantly gave his life were safely evacuated.

Pfc. Gonzales' valiant and intrepid conduct exemplifies the highest tradition of the military service.

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