Image copyright EVELYN CHAVEZ/U.S. AIR FORCE
By Chris Carroll
Copyright Stars and Stripes
WASHINGTON — Spc. Santiago J. Erevia had orders to tend the wounded while the rest of the platoon pressed on attacking. But when he and the men under his care came under fire from four nearby Viet Cong bunkers on May 21, 1969, Erevia didn’t dive for cover.
Instead, he gathered up spare weapons and ran into a storm of bullets.
He knocked out one bunker after another with hand grenades as gunners in the others fired on him. Out of grenades and with one bunker still active, he took an M-16 in each hand and charged, shooting down the last defender at point blank range.
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“Having single-handedly destroyed four enemy bunkers and their occupants, Specialist Fourth Class Erevia then returned to the soldiers charged to his care and resumed treating their injuries,” reads Erevia’s citation for the Distinguished Service Cross he was later awarded.
In a White House ceremony Tuesday, the United States will officially acknowledge that the selfless combat heroics of 24 soldiers, including Erevia, always merited more than the nation’s second-highest medal for valor.
Obama will present the Medal of Honor to Erevia and two other living recipients — former NCOs Melvin Morris and Jose Rodela. And he’ll present it posthumously to another 21 soldiers killed in battle or who died before they could receive the distinction they had earned.