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Baldomero Lopez
Baldomero Lopez, Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1925-08-23)August 23, 1925
Died September 15, 1950(1950-09-15) (aged 25)
Place of birth Tampa, Florida
Place of death KIA at Incheon, South Korea
Place of burial Centro Asturiano Memorial Park
Cemetery
Tampa, Florida
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch US Navy
United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1943 - 1944 (USN)
1947 - 1950 (USMC)
Rank First Lieutenant
Unit 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment
Battles/wars Korean War
 • Battle of Inchon
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

Baldomero Lopez (August 23, 1925 – September 15, 1950) was a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for smothering a hand grenade with his own body during the Inchon Landing on September 15, 1950.

BiographyEdit

Lopez was born on August 23, 1925, in Tampa, Florida, and grew up in the neighborhood of Ybor City.[1][2] His father, also named Baldomero Lopez, had immigrated to the United States from the Asturias region of Spain as a young man.[3] The younger Lopez attended Hillsborough High School (Florida)|Hillsborough High School, where he was an accomplished basketball player and a regimental commander in the school's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program.[1][2] He enlisted in the United States Navy on July 8, 1943, shortly after graduating from high school, and served until June 11 of the next year.[1]

He was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in the midst of World War II, and because of the ongoing war he and his classmates were placed in an accelerated three-year program.[2] Upon graduating on June 6, 1947, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He attended The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, after which he became a platoon commander in the Platoon Leaders Class Training Regiment.[1]

In 1948, Lopez went to China, where he served as a mortar section commander and later as a rifle platoon commander at Tsingtao and Shanghai. On his return from China he was assigned to Camp Pendleton, California. He was serving there when, shortly after the outbreak of the Korean war, he volunteered for duty as an infantry officer in Korea. He was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant on June 16, 1950.[1]

Korean War - Medal of Honor actionEdit

In Korea, Lopez served as Platoon Commander of A Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced). On September 15, 1950, he took part in the amphibious invasion of Incheon.[4] After landing on the beach, he was captured in an iconic photograph leading his men over a seawall.[2] Moments later, while preparing to throw a hand grenade into a North Korean bunker, he was struck by automatic weapon fire in the chest and right shoulder, causing him to drop the activated device. Although wounded, he crawled toward the grenade and, unable to throw it because of his injuries, pulled it under his body to shield others from the blast.[4] He was killed in the resulting explosion and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Secretary of the Navy Dan A. Kimball presented the medal to Lopez's parents during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on August 30, 1951.[1]

News of his death spread quickly among fellow Marines on the battlefronts. A Scripps-Howard war correspondent, Jerry Thorp, said in a news story on Lopez's deed that he "died with the courage that makes men great."[1]

Lopez was buried at the Centro Asturiano Memorial Park Cemetery in Tampa.[5]

DecorationsEdit

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Lopez's decorations include the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star, World War II Victory Medal, China Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars and the United Nations Service Medal.[1]

Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Purple Heart BAR.svg
Bronze star
US Navy Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.png
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
China Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
KSMRib.svg
United Nations Korea Medal ribbon.png
Medal of Honor Purple Heart Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star World War II Victory Medal
China Service Medal National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars United Nations Service Medal

Medal of Honor citationEdit

Lopez scaling seawall

Lieutenant Lopez leading his men over the seawall at Inchon several minutes before his death.

Lopez's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Marine platoon commander of Company A, in action against enemy aggressor forces. With his platoon 1st Lt. Lopez was engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses after landing with the assault waves. Exposing himself to hostile fire, he moved forward alongside a bunker and prepared to throw a hand grenade into the next pillbox whose fire was pinning down that sector of the beach. Taken under fire by an enemy automatic weapon and hit in the right shoulder and chest as he lifted his arm to throw, he fell backward and dropped the deadly missile. After a moment, he turned and dragged his body forward in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it. In critical condition from pain and loss of blood, and unable to grasp the hand grenade firmly enough to hurl it, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men and, with a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. His exceptional courage, fortitude, and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon 1st Lt. Lopez and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.[4]

Legacy and honorsEdit

Several structures have been named in Lopez's honor, including a state nursing home and a school in Seffner, Florida.[2] A Korean War memorial at the Ed Radice Sports Complex in Tampa was opened on November 11, 2007, and dedicated to Lopez. The memorial features a rock from the beach at Incheon.[6] The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command named a container ship after him, the USNS 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez (T-AK-3010).[7] In Bancroft Hall, the U.S. Naval Academy dormitory, a room is dedicated to him (Room No. 3021), with a display including his photo and a bronze plaque of his Medal of Honor citation. There is also the Baldomero Lopez State Veteran' nursing home in Land O'Lakes FL at 6919 Parkway Blvd.

Lopez's Medal of Honor remains in the possession of his extended family.[2]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

External linksEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

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