From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
From the Editors 28 (2010)Chasin’ Away the Blues: Texas Sunday Legislation 28 (2010)Simeon Hart Pioneered Local Industry 28 (2010)Felix Martinez: Southwestern Renaissance Man 28 (2010)Teresa Urrea: La Santa de Cabora Inspired Mexican Revolution 28 (2010)Utopia in Mesilla: The Shalam Colony 28 (2010)Stahmann Farms Produce Pecans on Two Hemispheres 28 (2010)Betty Mary Goetting Brought Birth Control to El Paso 28 (2010)Maud Sullivan Made El Paso Public Library a Cultural Center 28 (2010)Lucy Acosta’s Legacy Continues in LULAC 28 (2010)Belen Robles: Voice for the Latino Community 28 (2010)Toltec Club: Of Ghosts and Guests 28 (2010)
Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
From the Director 25 (2006)First El Paso Protestant Church: St. Clement's 25 (2006)Bowie High School: Always a Bear 25 (2006)Golden Gloves Grew Out of El Paso's Love of Boxing 25 (2006)LULAC Fought Hard to Guarantee Rights 25 (2006)El Paso Women Gained Power in LULAC 25 (2006)McKelligon Canyon: From Cattle to Culture 25 (2006)Tortugas Celebrates Virgen de Guadalupe, San Juan 25 (2006)Bataan Death March and POW Camps 25 (2006)Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors 25 (2006)Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II 25 (2006)Sober on the Border 25 (2006)Clyde W. Tombaugh: Farm Boy Reached for the Stars 25 (2006)A Taste of Southwest Wine 25 (2006)
From the Director 24 (2005)From the Editors 24 (2005)Gypsie Davenport and May Palmer Ran Infamous Brothels 24 (2005)Pioneer Attorney William Burges Tackled Unpopular Issues 24 (2005)Richard Fenner Burges: Renaissance Man 24 (2005)Charles Kelly Wielded Power with Political 'Ring' 24 (2005)Tom Charles Wanted World to Know White Sands 24 (2005)Dripping Springs has Rich History 24 (2005)Thomas B. White Directed Innovative La Tuna for 19 Years 24 (2005)Cowboys on the Range --- Missile Range, That Is 24 (2005)Ranchers vs. the Feds: The McNew Saga 24 (2005)Mexican Repatriation in 1930s 24 (2005)White House Department Store 24 (2005)Thomason Hospital Celebrates 90 Years 24 (2005)R.E. Thomason Shaped City, State, Nation 24 (2005)
Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004)From the Editors 23 (2004)Solomon C. Schutz Helped Bring Law and Order to El Paso 23 (2004)James Gillett Showed Courage in El Paso 23 (2004)Jim White Explored Carlsbad Caverns for Years 23 (2004)Ben Lilly: Mountain Man of the Southwest 23 (2004)Aldo Leopold Proposed Land Ethics 23 (2004)Escontrias Ranch: A Link to Hueco Tanks Park 23 (2004)Hueco Tanks is Site of Controversy 23 (2004)Marcelino Serna Became World War I Hero 23 (2004)Sam Dreben Soldiered All Over the World 23 (2004)Kern Place Neighborhood: The Man Behind the Name 23 (2004)Farah Manufacturing Now Just a Memory 23 (2004)Texas Knights of Columbus Began in El Paso 23 (2004)
Look for Us on the Web - Editor's Column 22 (2003)From the Editors 22 (2003)Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland 22 (2003)O. T. Bassett and Charles R. Morehead 22 (2003)S. H. Newman: Pioneer Newspaperman Fought Vice 22 (2003)Elfego Baca Lived More Than Nine Lives 22 (2003)Woman's Club Has Long Served City 22 (2003)Cathedral's Beauty Pleases 22 (2003)Albert J. Fountain's Achievements Eclipsed by Mysterious Death 22 (2003)Albert B. Fall's Career Ended in Disgrace 22 (2003)Cloudcroft Baby Sanatorium Saved Many 22 (2003)Dale Resler Worked Hard for El Paso 22 (2003)Price's Dairy Still Family Owned 22 (2003)Woodlawn Bottling Brought Pepsi to Town 22 (2003)Union Depot Witnessed Growth of El Paso 22 (2003)
We're Now on the Web --From the Editor 21(2002)From the Editors 21(2002)Downtown Opium Dens Attracted Many 21(2002)Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom for Texas Slaves 21(2002)Black Cowboys Rode the Trails, Too 21(2002)Ku Klux Klan Had Short Life in El Paso 21(2002)Mining Became Big Business in Southwest 21(2002)Smeltertown Still Exists in Memories 21 (2002)El Paso Played Important Role in the Mexican Revolution 21 (2002)Pancho Villa Led Northern Forces in Revolution 21 (2002)Soldaderas Played Important Roles in Revolution 21 (2002)Pershing, Villa Forever Linked to Columbus 21 (2002)Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929 -- 21 (2002)Houchen Settlement House Helped New Arrivals 21 (2002)Otis A. Aultman Captured Border History in Pictures 21 (2002)
Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
Three Decades of History 12 (1994)From the Editors 12 (1994)The Plaza Theater…Here to Stay!? 12 (1994)El Paso Broadcasting: The Stories Behind the Call Letters 12 (1994)Alphabet Agencies: FDR's Brainstorm 12 (1994)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio 12 (1994)Hobo Sign Language Targeted El Paso 12 (1994)Self- Sufficiency Key to Farmers' Survival During Depression 12 (1994)Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers 12 (1994)Former Members Recall Life in Hitler Youth 12 (1994)German Prisoners of War Interned at Fort Bliss During World War II -- 12 (1994)German POWs Remembered at Fort Bliss 12 (1994)One German POW's Story 12 (1994)Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages 12 (1994)Women Changed Wartime Work Patterns 12 (1994)Bracero Program Hurt Domestic Farm Workers 12 (1994)San Pedro Pharmacy Retains Look of the Past 12 (1994)Teenage Fashions of the Nifty Fifties 12 (1994)Rebel Image of Motorcyclists Set in 1950s -- 12 (1994)
Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
35 From the EditorsArea Missions Are Part of Living History (with 2017 update)Downtown El Paso is Monument to Anson Mills (with 2017 update)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio (with 2017 update)The Magic of Mariachis (with 2017 update)New Generation of Mariachis (with 2017 update)Looking Back at the Chile PepperMen Behind the Chile Pepper (with 2017 update)Hot Peppers: They're Not Just for EatingEl Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations (with 2017 update)Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe Serves El Paso County (with 2017 update)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso into a Health Center (with 2017 update)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assault (with 2017 update)Company E Survivor Recalls Days as Prisoner of War (with 2017 update)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers (with 2017 update)
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Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism

By Michael Rojas

Photograph of the U.S. Army Congressional Medal of HonorThe Korean War occurred some 65 years ago, but its American veterans have not forgotten their experiences, especially if they lost good friends in battle. Korean War veteran Mitchel Libman, who is now 83, was convinced that his childhood friend from Brooklyn, Pfc. Leonard Kravitz, should have received the Medal of Honor but did not because he was Jewish.

Image caption:  The U.S. Army Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation's highest medal for valor (File photo)

In a 2014 National Public Radio (NPR) interview with Audie Cornish, Libman described Kravtiz’s heroic acts in the Korean War. While under Chinese fire, his unit began a retreat. Kravitz stayed at his machine gun to protect his buddies, saving members of his platoon but dying during his effort in March 1951. Libman says, “And this is what makes him such a great hero, knowing that he was going to die, yet he was willing to give up his life.” Kravitz was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for valor, but Libman felt he deserved the highest award.

Libman and his wife Marilyn began a process that would take them more than a half century to convince the government that Kravitz deserved the Medal of Honor. After looking into Kravitz’s case, Libman found that there had been other Jewish-American soldiers who should have been considered for the award. Through Libman’s work with Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, the Leonard Kravitz Jewish War Veterans Act of 2001 was drafted. Kravitz, incidentally, was the uncle of contemporary musician Lenny Kravitz, for whom he is named.

Journalist Matthew E. Berger wrote that the bill was later amended to include Hispanic veterans of Korea and was included in the 2002 Defense Authorization Act. Ashley Southall wrote in the New York Times that the investigation “was intended as an inquiry into prejudice against Jews and Hispanics, but was later broadened to include all veterans whose actions merited the medal.” The congressional order asked investigators to review the period from December 1941 through September 2001.

The Army alone would identify more than 600 records, and the other branches found 275 records that needed reassessment. After a 12-year inquiry, it was found that 24 veterans who had previously been awarded Distinguished Service Crosses for their gallantry had actually warranted a Medal of Honor, including Kravitz.

The Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor, was created during the Civil War. On December 9, 1861, Iowa Senator James W. Grimes introduced to the Senate a bill designed to encourage the efficiency of the Navy by authorizing the distribution of medals of honor. On December 21, President Lincoln signed this bill, called Public Resolution 82, containing provisions for a Navy Medal of Valor. The Congressional Medal of Honor home page states that this medal “was to be bestowed upon such petty officer, seaman, and marine as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war.” 

Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson introduced a bill two months later with provisions for a similar medal for the Army. According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society home page, “It would authorize the president to distribute medals to privates in the Army of The United States who shall distinguish themselves in battle.” On July 12, 1862, President Lincoln signed and Congress passed this bill into law and the Medal of Honor was created, becoming a permanent award in 1863. Today, there are three variations of the medal: one for the Army; another for the Air Force; and one for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Photo of Victor H. Espinoza in uniformThe Congressional Medal of Honor Society in 2014 stated that since the 1860s, some 3,495 Medals of Honor have been awarded to members of all Department of Defense services. Of those, 88 have been awarded to African Americans, 59 to Hispanic Americans, 33 to Asian Americans and 32 to Native Americans. Individuals have fought over the years to have friends or relatives honored long after their military service. The Defense Authorization Act of 2002 led to the examination of many cases of minorities being denied or awarded medals of lesser grade. 

From this investigation emerged two dozen veterans, all from the Army, who would qualify for the Medal of Honor. Seventeen of the 24 recipients were Hispanics and included two soldiers with local ties: Victor H. Espinoza and Jesus S. Duran, men who, because of their Latino roots, were not given proper recognition at the time of their service.

Image caption:  El Pasoan Victor H. Espinoza fought in the Korean War, becoming a hero. (Photo from whitehouse.gov)

The early to mid-1900s was a harsh time for minorities and especially for Latinos in the Border­land. Many families were first- or second-generation Mexican Americans. The El Paso area was still awash in discrimination during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. This time was especially tough for young Latino men looking to create opportunities for themselves.

Guillermo Rojas, who grew up in the Smeltertown community during the 1940s and 1950s, a predominantly poor Hispanic area in South El Paso, said in a personal interview with this author, “I remember the white kids going to school in the upper west side schools such as Coronado. The poor Hispanics went to Bowie. We used to caddy [for] these kids’ parents [at the El Paso Country Club] who were the prominent El Paso figures at the time.” Rojas recalled the racial divide between Hispanics and Anglos in El Paso, which was predominantly Mexican American even then.

Though discrimination limited opportunities for minorities, one positive alternative lay in the armed forces. Rojas himself joined the Marine Corps in 1960 as a way of creating a future for himself while still serving this country. Similarly, Espinoza and Duran also joined the armed forces. In an article entitled “Fighting on Two Fronts: Latinos in the Military,” University of California Professor Lorena Oropeza wrote, “Latinos have not only taken tremendous pride in their record of military service, they have also adroitly used their status as soldiers and veterans to advance the equal treatment and integration of Latinos within U.S. society.” Yet after joining the services, many minorities were to discover that discrimination was still an issue.

Victor Hugo Espinoza was born on July 15, 1929, in El Paso, Texas. From the beginning, Espinoza had a particularly rough childhood. He and his brother David were orphaned at an early age. His father left his family when the two boys were young, and his mother died in her thirties, according to Aaron Montes of the El Paso Times. Wendy Brown wrote in the Fort Bliss Bugle that until Espinoza and his brother left for the Army, they were both in foster care.

photo of gravestoneOnce in the Army, Espinoza distinguished himself as an excellent soldier. It was during his time in Korea that he would make his mark on history. A rifleman, Cpl. Espinoza served with Company A, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. According to the Medal of Honor News home page, on August 1, 1952, while securing “Old Baldy,” an enemy hill in Chorwon, Korea, he and his fellow soldiers were “pinned down by withering artillery, mortar, and small-arms fire from strongly fortified positions.” 

Fully aware that the odds were against them and of the hazards that lay ahead of him, Espinoza decided to leave safety and take charge. He made a deliberate one-man assault on the enemy and silenced a machine gun and its crew. Douglas Sterner, Army Times writer, quoted General Orders No. 37 describing Espinoza’s actions: “Continuing up the fire-swept slope, he neutralized a mortar, wiped out two bunkers, and killed its defenders. After expending his ammunition, he employed enemy grenades, hurling them into the hostile trenches and inflicting additional casualties. Observing a tunnel on the crest of the hill which could not be destroyed by grenades, he obtained explosives, entered the tunnel, set the charge, and destroyed the tunnel and the troops it sheltered.”

Image caption:  A new headstone at Fort Bliss National Cemetery for Victor H. Espinoza indicates that he received the Medal of Honor. (Photo by Naomi Iniguez)

Because of Espinoza’s actions, his unit was able to continue the attack and hold their position. Espinoza was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions that day in Korea. Remembering his award, David Espinoza, Victor’s brother, said to Aaron Montes of the El Paso Times, “When he received the Distinguished Service Cross, he did not say much about it. He was humbled and never tried to brag about it.” Pilar Arias, also writing for the El Paso Times, said that along with this award, Espinoza was also honored with the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star, the Combat Infantry Badge, the United Nations Medal and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

Espinoza retired from the Army with the rank of Master Sergeant. He returned to El Paso where he worked at the Dick Poe Toyota dealership, cleaning and buffing cars before he moved to the small town of San Gabriel, Texas, 50 miles northeast of Austin. There he married and had a daughter and son. Some years later, Espinoza returned to El Paso, living with his sister on the East Side until his death on April 17, 1986, at age 56. He was buried at Fort Bliss.

Tyronne Espinoza, Victor Espinoza’s son, accepted the Medal of Honor on behalf of his father in 2014. When asked about his reaction when he first heard the news, Tyronne said to Army Live writer Brittany Brown, “I was thinking it was about time and it is well deserved.” Although Espinoza did not live long enough to be awarded in person what was rightfully his, his legacy still resides in the lives of his loved ones. Family members recalled Espinoza’s love of cooking and singing. Tyronne also proudly said to Brown, “I live, eat and breathe the military. My father motivated me to consider serving my country. I actually joined the US Marine Corps.”

Photo of Jesus S. Duran Espinoza’s brother David, also a Korean War veteran, attended the ceremony in Washington, D.C., along with other relatives. The two brothers as young men actually met for the first time in a long while in Korea, years after they had been in foster care, according to Brown.

Espinoza’s son told Montes, “For my dad, the war never ended.” Celia Lucero, his sister, said that Espinoza suffered from what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. There were no treatments for the condition then. His son said, “I don’t think words can explain how … hurt I am that he can’t accept it [the award].”

Image caption:  Spc. 4 Jesus S. Duran courageously attacked the enemy in Vietnam, saving wounded soldiers.  (Photo from the Fort Hood Sentinel)

Another local soldier to receive the Medal of Honor posthumously along with Victor Espinoza was Jesus S. Duran. Born in Juárez, Mexico, on July 26, 1948, Duran was the sixth of 12 siblings. Early in his childhood, Duran immigrated to Riverside, Calif., where he was raised. As a Mexican immigrant, Duran faced much discrimination during that time. Duran’s son, Chuy, said to Darrell R. Santschi, staff writer for the Riverside Press Enterprise, “[He] was born in Mexico and I don’t think that favored him.”

Duran joined the Army on May 13, 1968, at the age of 20. He was soon shipped off to Vietnam to serve with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Duran served as a machine gunner in his unit which was in charge of conducting search and destroy missions against the North Vietnamese and Vietcong.

On April 10, 1969, during the third phase of the Vietnam War, Duran’s actions would eventually lead to his Medal of Honor. While moving into an intricate enemy bunker, his platoon began to take heavy ambush fire from all sides. As his Medal of Honor citation reads, “With an M-60 machine gun blazing from his hip, Spc. 4 Duran rushed forward and assumed a defensive position.” Duran went on to obstruct the enemy with a barrage of machine gun fire, shooting directly into enemy foxholes and eliminating those who tried to flee. His actions saved several wounded soldiers and led to the enemy’s retreat.

Duran originally received the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest combat award. A few years later, the award was upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on that day. Santschi wrote that after Duran’s discharge from the Army, he returned to California. He married twice and had two children. In California, Duran pursued a career as a juvenile detention officer. He spent his time enjoying his family and mentoring young offenders and leading them on educational trips. In 1977, Duran was tragically stabbed to death in a Riverside bar. 

Alma Brigandi, Duran’s wife, always believed Duran deserved the Medal of Honor although he never mentioned it. Duran’s daughter, Tina Duran-Ruvalcaba, received the Medal of Honor from President Obama on her father’s behalf. Although not born here in the United States, Duran fought for this country like many other immigrants. “He just wanted to better himself, to do something for his country. By joining the service, he was able to become a U.S. citizen,” Brigandi said to Santschi.

On March 18, 2014, in a ceremony inside the White House, these brave men and 22 others were finally recognized as they should have been for their heroic actions in the military. Had it not been for Mitchel Libman and his wife, the stories of these 24 men, including Kravitz, Espinoza and Duran, would not have made headlines all over the country. Although they answered the call when their country needed them, their country was not ready to see them as equals. Three of the 24 were still alive to accept the Medal of Honor in person.

Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times wrote that after awarding the medals, President Obama ended the ceremony acknowledging the Medal of Honor awardees with these moving words, “Today we have the chance to set the record straight. No nation is perfect, but here in America, we confront our imperfections and face a sometimes painful past, including the truth that some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equal.”

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