News Release
  November 7, 2002
 
FAMILY OF HOMETOWN HERO
PRESENTED WITH WAR MEDALS

Los Angeles Mission College honored a local hero when it held its annual Veterans Day ceremony on November 7.

Photo of Private First Class David M. GonzalesPrivate 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 Web sites.

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.

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