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Read These Inspiring Stories About Heroic Veterans

They sacrificed a lot, some even their own lives, to show their ultimate dedication in the performance of their duty and love for their people and their country. These army veterans deserve more than just medals of valor and honor. They should get the respect, appreciation, and gratitude they – including their families – all deserve.

With that in mind, we gathered the following heroic stories behind these great men’s medals of honor. Read them and get the daily dose of inspiration you need to keep going.

Pvt. Pedro Cano

Pedro Cano earned his medal in Hurtgen Forest, in a series of engagements that lasted for several months. It was December 1944, when his company encountered strong enemy forces around Schevenhütte, in Germany. Within two days, Cano took out about 30 enemy soldiers. When Cano’s platoon was later ambushed by the Germans and suffered heavy losses, he, in turn, surprised the enemy and eliminated them with a grenade. He was wounded himself and was returned to the States for recuperation, passing away just six years later, in 1950.

Staff Sgt. Salvador J. Lara

A fine example of bravery and controlled aggression, Salvador Lara earned his medals in Italy, during a two-day period. On the 27th of May, 1944, he and his men went on a rampage near the town of Aprilia, destroying several enemy positions and putting a lot of enemy soldiers out of action. He did the same the next day and did not stop, even though he got wounded in the leg. Lara only accepted medical aid after his objective had been secured.

Pvt. Joe Gandara

Private Joe Gandara earned his distinction in France, on the 9th of June, 1944. In Amfreville, he and his fellow troops were attacked by German forces and remained pinned for hours, until Gandara took it upon himself to get them out of that dangerous situation. He attacked the enemy positions and managed to destroy three machine-gun nests, though he paid for it with his life.

Sgt. Victor H. Espinoza

Victor Espinoza earned his Medal of Honor in the Korean War, in 1952. While attempting to capture a hill of strategic importance nicknamed “Old Baldy”, heavy fire pinned his unit to the ground.  Knowing they were in terrible danger, he left on his own to do what had to be done. When it was all over, he had destroyed a machine-gun nest, two enemy bunkers and a secret tunnel that the enemy used for surprise attacks and covert movement of troops. And he survived to go back home.

Pfc. Miguel A. Vera

Another man who left his mark around “Old Baldy was Miguel A. Vera. Despite already having been wounded, he joined an attack against the right sector of the battlefield. When the enemy fire proved too much to overtake, he chose to stay behind and provide covering fire, so that his comrades-in-arms could escape safely. His actions did exactly that, though he paid for their safety with his life.

Sgt. Jack Weinstein

Jack Weinstein showed his bravery near Kumsong, a Korean town, in 1951. When he and his men were attacked by enemy forces, he ordered his troops back while he stayed back to defend their withdrawal. Not only did Jack kill six enemy soldiers, he then used their grenades to keep the rest of the enemy forces at bay, as he ran out of ammo. He stood his ground until he was relieved by reinforcements who drove the enemy away. He was wounded but survived to return home and he lived until the age of 77.

Staff. Sgt. William F. Leonard

William F. Leonard was the squad leader of C Company of the 30th Infantry and won personal glory on the 7th of November, 1944 in France. He and his men had been hit hard around St. Die and only eight men were left. Instead of surrendering or turning back, Leonard led his remaining men forward, despite heavy enemy fire. He killed two snipers, got wounded, continued advancing despite his injuries and used rifle grenades to eliminate a machine-gun nest and its two-man crew. A bazooka explosion almost stunned him but he nevertheless moved on, destroyed another machine-gun and managed to capture their objective. On top of that, he survived, dying decades later, in 1985.

Master Sgt. Manuel V. Mendoza

Manuel V. Mendoza’s heroics on the slopes of Mt. Battaglia forced the Germans to take notice. 200 soldiers of the Third Reich attempted to charge the American positions, hoping to drive them back. Mendoza, who was already injured in the preceding bombardment, took a Tommygun and went to face the enemy. He killed 10 of them immediately and then, as he saw that they weren’t stopping, fell upon them with machine-gun, pistol, carbine and grenades. When the Germans fled they had left 30 dead behind, many weapons, as well as their wounded. Mendoza single-handedly saved the day and live to fight in the Korean War as well.

Sgt. Alfred B. Nietzel

Sgt. Alfred Nietzel got to show his mettle on the 18th of November, 1944. His unit held their position in Heistern, inside Germany, when they came under serious enemy attack. To help his squad get to the back lines and request assistance, he held a rear-guard action which saw the German advance grind to a halt while he sprayed them with machine-gun fire. After his ammo run out, he kept fighting with his rifle, until a German grenade killed. Although he lost his life, the Germans had lost precious time and the reinforcements that arrived drove them back.

Sgt. Ardie R. Copas

This one is from the Vietnam War. Sgt. Ardie R. Copas, a Specialist 4 in the U.S. Army was part of a convoy that came under attack in Cambodia. The truck he was in was transporting mortar shells and although they could explode at any moment as the vehicle was on fire(!), he used his machine-gun to provide covering fire. He fought on as his wounded comrades were evacuated and although he saved their lives, he lost his own.

Let’s thank these men by continuously wishing their families well, remembering their heroism, and loving our freedom and country.

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