Medal of Honor Awarded After Decades of Waiting
A Vietnam veteran, Santiago Erevia, received a Medal of Honor decades after his heroic efforts in the war that kept his unit safe when under heavy fire. While serving as a radio-telephone operator, Erevia single handedly took out four enemy bunkers and administered first aid to his wounded comrades.
After these heroic events, Private First Class, John MacFarland, was asked to write a recommendation for Erevia to be awarded the Medal of Honor. MacFarland recounted the day of May 21st, 1969, where Erevia went up to MacFarland and a wounded soldier and asked if they had any extra ammunition. The wounded man handed Erevia an M-16 rifle, magazines of ammunition and hand grenades.
MacFarland recalled, "Our company commander, Capt. David Gibson, along with his radio-telephone operators and medic and several wounded had been pinned down and were receiving intense fire from several enemy positions. Without Erevia, "it is doubtful that they would have survived the day."
MacFarland heard nothing after sending the recommendation up the chain of command. Over the years, it had been something that bothered MacFarland. He would look through the Medal of Honor recipients over the years, but still did not find Erevia's name.
Erevia was denied the Medal of Honor, but was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. In 2002, Congress ordered a Pentagon review to determine whether discrimination prevented Jewish and Latino veterans from receiving the medal. Records of more than 6,000 Distinguished Service Cross recipients were examined by the Pentagon, to see if the award should be upgraded.
Erevia, now 68, received a call from a military officer who stated that he would get a call from someone at the White House. A woman on the phone said that the president of the United States was on the line. "He said that I deserved the Medal of Honor. He said that, for some reason, I was overlooked, but that he was making it right." Erevia said.
Erevia was born in Nordheim, Texas and dropped out of school in the 10th grade. He was working as a cook and soda deliveryman, then enlisted at in the Army at the age of 22.
This is a wonderful story of heroics at play. This is one of thousands, if not millions of other stories that involved individuals who displayed their courage to save others.