Former Sergeant Santiago Erevia, from Florida, has heard that he will receive a Medal of Honour 45 years after his role in the Vietnam War. After his unit came under heavy enemy fire in May 1969, Erevia used two M-16’s and several grenades to single-handedly destroy four enemy bunkers and their occupants.
Erevia is one of 24 veterans who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to receive the U.S. military’s highest honour after a congressionally mandated review of minorities who may have been passed over because of long-held prejudices, such as skin colour. The veterans, most of Hispanic or Jewish heritage, will be recognized in a March 18 ceremony that will try to correct the long-ignored ethnic and religious discrimination in the armed forces.
Albert Gonzalez, the national commander of the American GI Forum, the largest Hispanic-American veterans group, said that recognising the veterans with the Medal of Honour shows a willingness in the country to face a blemish in American history.