• Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Master Sgt. Jose Rodela, and Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia, along with 21 other veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, had their Distinguished Service Cross medals upgraded to Medals of Honor. Here, they take part in a Medal of Honor presentation ceremony at the White House, March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, only Morris, Rodela and Erevia are living, who are all from the Vietnam War.

    Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Master Sgt. Jose Rodella & Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia

    Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Master Sgt. Jose Rodela, and Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia, along with 21 other veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, had their Distinguished Service Cross medals upgraded to Medals of Honor. Here...

  • Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the Vietnam War.

    Obama Listens to Master Sgt. Jose Rodella Citation Before Awarding MOH

    Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the...

  • President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Master Sgt. Jose Rodela during a ceremony at the White House, March 18, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Rodela earned the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam, Sept. 1, 1969.

    Retired Master Sgt. Jose Rodella Receives MOH from President Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Master Sgt. Jose Rodela during a ceremony at the White House, March 18, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Rodela earned the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions during combat operations against an armed...

  • President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Master Sgt. Jose Rodela during a ceremony at the White House, March 18, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Rodela earned the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam, Sept. 1, 1969.

    Rodela presented MOH

    President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Master Sgt. Jose Rodela during a ceremony at the White House, March 18, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Rodela earned the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions during combat operations against an armed...

  • Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the Vietnam War.

    President Obama Presents Medal of Honor Recipients

    Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the...

  • Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the Vietnam War.

    Sgt. Santiago Erevia Receives the Medal of Honor

    Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the...

  • President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia during a ceremony at the White House, March 18, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Erevia earned the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as radio telephone operator during a search-and-clear mission near Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam, May 21, 1969.

    Erevia awarded MOH

    President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia during a ceremony at the White House, March 18, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Erevia earned the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as radio telephone operator...

  • President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris during a ceremony at the White House March 18, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Morris earned the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Chi Lang, Republic of Vietnam, Sept. 17, 1969.

    Morris MOH

    President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris during a ceremony at the White House March 18, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Morris earned the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions during combat operations against an...

  • Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony, March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the Vietnam War.

    Retired Special Forces Soldier Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris Receives MOH

    Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony, March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the...

  • The newest living recipients of the Medal of Honor stand during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 18, 2014. From left are Sgt. 1st  Class Melvin Morris, Master Sgt. Jose Rodela and Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia.

    MOH Recipients

    The newest living recipients of the Medal of Honor stand during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 18, 2014. From left are Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Master Sgt. Jose Rodela and Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia.

  • Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the Vietnam War.

    As Obama Looks On, a Family Member of a posthumous MOH recipient Thanks the Families for their Soldiers' Sacrifice

    Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the...

  • Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the Vietnam War.

    Tears Streaming Down, Obama Comforts the Lenora Daughter of MOH (posthumous) Recipient Leonard Alvarado

    Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the...

  • Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the Vietnam War.

    President Barack Obama Shakes Hands with Families of the MOH Recipients

    Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the...

  • President Barack Obama applauds the newest living recipients of the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 18, 2014. From left are Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Master Sgt. Jose Rodela and Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia.

    Applause for MOH recipients

    President Barack Obama applauds the newest living recipients of the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 18, 2014. From left are Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Master Sgt. Jose Rodela and Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia.

  • Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the Vietnam War.

    Army Version of Medal of Honor Readied for Presentation

    Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the...

  • Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the Vietnam War.

    Smartphones Capture 'Valor 24' at The White House

    Twenty-four upgrades from Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor were awarded to Soldiers from three wars at a White House ceremony March 18, 2014. Of the 24 who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, just three are living, all from the...

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 18, 2014) -- Twenty-four U.S. Army veterans from three wars -- World War II, Korea and Vietnam -- received upgrades to the highest military decoration for uncommon bravery and gallantry at a White House ceremony Tuesday.

President Barack Obama presented posthumous Medals of Honor to family members and representatives of 21 of those Soldiers, and draped the sky-blue ribbon and five-pointed star-bearing medals around the necks of the three living veterans from the Vietnam War.

Each of the 24 had received a Distinguished Service Cross for the same fearless actions for which they were now receiving long overdue upgrades to the Medal of Honor.

"This ceremony is 70 years in the making and today, we have the chance to set the record straight," he said, noting that more than a decade ago Congress mandated a review to ensure heroism of veterans wasn't overlooked due to prejudice or discrimination. During that review, the 24 Soldiers -- Hispanic, Jewish and African American -- were identified as deserving of the Medal of Honor.

"This is the length to which America will go to make sure everyone who serves under our proud flag receives the thanks that they deserve," he said. "So with each generation, we keep on striving to live up to our ideals of freedom and equality, and to recognize the dignity and patriotism of every person, no matter who they are, what they look like, or how they pray."

Obama invited each living Soldier to the stage, one at a time, dressed in uniforms they could have worn in their 20s, but they now were filling out in their 70s with a full complement of ribbons and badges that testified to their skills as young Soldiers. Their citations were read, their Medals of Honor were draped and handshakes exchanged.

"These are extraordinary Americans. They are exemplary Soldiers," the president said.

Following the presentation to the three Vietnam veterans, Obama called them all to the stage.

"Santiago Erevia, Melvin Morris, Jose Rodela -- in the thick of the fight, all those years ago, for your comrades and your country, you refused to yield," he said. "On behalf of a grateful nation, we all want to thank you for inspiring us -- then and now -- with your strength, your will, and your heroic hearts."

Sons, daughters, nephews, brothers, wives, friends and representatives of the 21 Soldiers who weren't present to receive the long overdue recognition each were called to the stage to hear their Soldier's citation read aloud for a final time.

While some fought tears, others smiled, faintly remembering. Then each was presented with a framed citation and Medal of Honor which their Soldiers so deserved. There was little doubt their Soldiers would never be forgotten again.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is very rare where we have the opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary courage and patriotism of such a remarkable collection of men," Obama concluded. "We are so grateful to them, we are so grateful to their families, it makes us proud and it makes us inspired."

Page last updated Tue June 3rd, 2014 at 13:08