Not quite. In fact, it was to bestow a Medal of Honor on Rodriguez's late Uncle, U.S. Army Pvt. Miguel Vera, who was among 24 men who served in conflicts spanning World War II to Vietnam. Their heroism was apparently overlooked, and they are now being retroactively awarded America’s highest award for valor. Rodriguez has been invited to the White House to accept the Medal of Honor on his uncle's behalf.
“It sounded just like him. I was in shock,” Rodriguez was quoted as saying to the Miami Herald, noting also that he loved his uncle "like a brother." Rodriguez described his uncle as a slight, shy private who knew what to do on the last day of his life as an automatic rifleman with Company F of the 2nd Infantry Division’s 38th Infantry Regiment.
Someone will recite the story at the White House on Tuesday, March 25th. As Rodriguez tells it, the private fell wounded and was being carried off the battlefield when he saw his fellow soldiers’ morale in jeopardy.
“My uncle got off the stretcher, rallied the troops and said, ‘We’ve got to go,’ ” Rodriguez said, quoting accounts of how Vera led a terrifying charge up the hill. “There was mayhem, hand-to-hand combat, bayonet fighting,” he added.
Automatic weapons and grenade fire, artillery and mortar barrages were of such intensity that his platoon fell back, according to an account issued by the Department of the Army on April 29, 1953. But not Vera. “He selflessly remained behind to cover the withdrawal and, maintaining a determined stand, poured crippling fire into enemy emplacements,” according to his Distinguished Service Cross citation. “During this action he lost his life.”
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