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Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 3-30

Just a Thought: Medal of Honor recipients
By Steve Walker

President Barrack Obama recently awarded twenty-four servicemen, the Congressional Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony to include two San Antonio recipients who are still alive. A third recipient Melvin Morris lives in Oklahoma.

Many of the recipient’s relatives and those who served with them waited many years for their heroic deeds to be finally validated for their valor, bravery and sacrifice for their country.

Over time while we in San Antonio were recognizing our local heroes by naming stadiums and monuments in their honor, the American people have now caught up with us to honor the heroes for their service. President Obama did something about it and changed all that.

Alamo City native Army Specialist 4 Santiago Erevia distinguished himself, May 21st, 1969 while serving as a radio telephone operator during a search and clear mission near Tam KV City in the Republic of Vietnam. He was a member of Company C 1st Battalion, Division: 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.

San Antonio native Jose Rodela is recognized for his valorous actions on September 1st, 1969 while serving as company commander in Phuoc Long Province Vietnam for 18 continuous hours of contact with the enemy. Despite his wounds he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to attend to the fallen and eliminate an enemy rocket position. He was a member of Special Forces Operational detachment Alpha 3312.

Of the honorees, it so happens that 18 are Hispanic, one is Jewish and Melvin Morris is African-American.

As a Vietnam Veteran who served in Phu Bai from 1970-71 and shared a Mess Hall with a unit of the 101st Airborne Division like Santiago Erivia, I am extremely proud of the fact that all three living recipients are honored for their service in Viet Nam.

Having taught high school in the predominately Hispanic community in Edgewood and Harlandale school districts, I saw first hand the patriotism in those communities.

Both Harlandale and Edgewood districts have supplied many military members that served in combat in Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan as well. More service members graduating from Edgewood have died in Vietnam than any other school district in San Antonio.

The Alamo City is recognized as Military City. San Antonio natives to include a large contingent of the Hispanic community exhibit much pride in their willingness in volunteering for the military to ensure the safety and welfare of the United States.

We are also the home of the only two Hispanics who have served as the Director of the Selective Service Board (aka Draft Board) appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.

The current Director of the Selective Service Board is retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Larry Romo who serves under President Barrack Obama.

The other is former Director Ret. Army Colonel Gil Coronado who served under President Bill Clinton. The Alamo City is very proud of its diverse patriots and Medal of Honor Recipients.   

And as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”  

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.

Editor's Note: March 29th, 1975 troops were officially pulled out of Viet Nam. A new Viet Nam monument was dedicated at the State Capitol, March 29th, 2014. 

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