Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Veterans Previously Overlooked

WASHINGTON — It took decades, congressional legislation and a review of thousands of war records, but two dozen veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam received the Medal of Honor on Tuesday from President Obama at a somber and tearful White House ceremony.

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President Obama at the White House with three Medal of Honor recipients, from left: Melvin Morris, Jose Rodela and Santiago Jesse Erevia. (Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty Images)

“As one family member has said, this is long overdue,” Obama told the single largest group of Medal of Honor recipients since 1945.

The presentation came after Congress, in a 2002 defense bill, ordered a review of thousands of war records to determine whether Latino and Jewish veterans were denied the nation’s highest military decoration because of discrimination.

“I’m busting with pride,” said Charles Baldonado, 77, whose brother Joe R. Baldonado was among those honored posthumously. Joe Baldonado, who was from Los Angeles, died at age 20 in Korea, where he used a machine gun to drive back enemy troops as grenades exploded around him. Eventually, he was killed by one.

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