|November 7, 2002|
|FAMILY OF HOMETOWN
PRESENTED WITH WAR MEDALS
Los Angeles Mission College
honored a local hero when it held its annual Veterans Day ceremony on
First Class David M. Gonzales,
the first Los Angeles County resident to receive a Congressional Medal
of Honor during World War II, was remembered for heroic actions that saved
the lives of five companions in the Philippines. Gonzales, a Pacoima resident,
was fatally wounded while digging out his comrades, who had been buried
alive when a bomb struck their camp. Gonzales was posthumously awarded
the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in 1945.
Keynote speakers were Gonzales'
son, David Junior, and David Junior's wife, Beatrice. They were given
an unexpected surprise when Congressman Howard Berman presented the family
with various military decorations earned by Gonzales but never given to
his relatives. These include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the
Army Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze
Service Stars, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, the World War II Victory
Medal, the World War II Honorable Service Lapel Button, the Combat Infantry
Badge, the Expert Rifle Badge, and the Gold Star Lapel Button that
identifies the next of kin of members of the military who lost their lives
while engaged in action.
"My husband is speechless,"
said Beatrice Gonzales, speaking on behalf of the family. "He is
so deeply touched by what's happened here today. We will remember this
for as long as we live."
Congressman Berman discovered
the omission of the medals while helping the family in their efforts to
right another error. For years, a photo of a soldier who is not
Gonzales, but identified as that of the medal winner, was erroneously
displayed in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes. Consequently, this mistake
has been replicated over the years in other shrines, publications and
Thanks to the efforts of Berman
and his staff, the Department of the Army has told the family that the
correct photo will be displayed when the renovation of the Pentagon -
made necessary by the 9/11 attack - is completed.
Los Angeles Mission College holds a Veterans Day Ceremony annually to mark its close ties with veterans in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Each year, Mission College serves more than 400 veterans who come to the campus with questions about their benefits and about educational and career opportunities available to them.
# # #