Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez
|Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez|
Medal of Honor recipient Sgt Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez
May 23, 1946|
February 4, 1968 (aged 21)|
Huế, South Vietnam
|Place of burial||Hillcrest Memorial, Edinburg, Texas (Coordinates: )|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1965–1968|
1st Reconnaissance Battalion|
3rd Battalion, 4th Marines
2nd Battalion, 6th Marines
1st Battalion, 1st Marines
• Battle of Huế †
Medal of Honor|
Alfredo Cantu "Freddy" Gonzalez (May 23, 1946 – February 4, 1968) was a United States Marine Corps sergeant who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for service in the Battle of Huế during the Vietnam War.
Gonzalez was born on May 23, 1946, in Edinburg, Texas, the only child of mother Dolia Gonzalez. He graduated from Lamar Grammar School in 1955, and from Edinburg High School in 1965. Despite his small size, weighing only 135 pounds (61 kg), he was an All-District football player in high school.
He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from San Antonio, Texas, on June 3, 1965, but was discharged and enlisted in the regular Marine Corps a month later, on July 6. He completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, the following September, and individual combat training at Camp Pendleton, California, that October.
He then became a rifleman with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and served in that capacity until January 1966. Promoted to private first class on January 1, he served a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam as a rifleman and squad leader with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. He was promoted to lance corporal on October 1 and to corporal on December 1 before his tour ended in February 1967. Upon his return to the United States, he saw duty as a rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
He became an instructor at Camp Lejeune, teaching Marines the techniques of guerrilla warfare, and expected to serve out the rest of the war in that capacity. His plans changed when he learned that an entire platoon, including men who had served under him during his tour, had been killed in an ambush in Vietnam. Gonzalez requested to be sent back for a second deployment. Ordered to the West Coast in May 1967, he joined the 3rd Replacement Company, Staging Battalion, at Camp Pendleton in California, for transfer to East Asia. On July 1, 1967, he was promoted to sergeant, and later that month arrived in the Republic of Vietnam. He served as a squad leader and platoon sergeant with the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division.
During the initial phase of the Battle of Huế in late January 1968, Gonzalez and his unit were sent by truck convoy to reinforce units in the city. When the convoy came under fire near the village of Lang Van Lrong on January 31, he led his men in clearing the area. Further down the road, he received shrapnel wounds while carrying an injured man to safety. When the convoy was halted by a machine gun bunker, he led his platoon towards the position and destroyed it with hand grenades. Eventually reaching the city of Huế, his unit became engaged in heavy combat there. Gonzalez was seriously wounded on February 3, but refused medical treatment. The next day, when a large North Vietnamese force inflicted heavy casualties on his company, he used anti-tank weapons to fire on the fortified positions. He successfully checked the North Vietnamese advance and silenced a rocket emplacement before being mortally wounded by a rocket. He took cover in the Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church, where he died.
For his actions during the Battle of Huế from January 31 to February 4, 1968, Gonzalez was awarded the Medal of Honor. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew formally presented the medal to Gonzalez's mother on October 31, 1969, during a ceremony at the White House.
Medal of Honor citation
He is buried at Hillcrest Memorial Park in his hometown of Edinburg, Texas.
The United States Navy guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG-66), commissioned in 1996, is named in his honor. His mother, Dolia, has an uncommonly close relationship with the ship and its crew. She attends many of the ship's major ceremonies, including departures and arrivals from deployments and changes of command. The crewmen exchange letters with Dolia Gonzalez, known as the ship's "mother," and call her during deployments.
Two biographies by former Edinburg resident John W. Flores; "When The River Dreams: The Life of Marine Sgt. Freddy Gonzalez," printed in fall 2006, and "Marine Sgt. Freddy Gonzalez: Vietnam War Hero," scheduled for release by McFarland Publishing Company, in fall 2013.
The Museum of South Texas History holds a permanent display containing Gonzalez's uniform and medals. At The Basic School in Stafford County, Virginia, where Marine Corps officers are trained, there is an Alfredo Gonzalez Hall. In Edinburg, both an elementary school and a major east-west thoroughfare (Freddy Gonzalez Drive) are named in his honor.
Awards and decorations
- List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Vietnam War
- List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients
- Hispanics in the United States Marine Corps
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
- "Medal of Honor recipients - Vietnam (A-L)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- Mink, Micheal (August 21, 2009). "The Mother of the USS Gonzalez". Digital Video & Imagery Distribution System. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
- "SERGEANT ALFREDO GONZALEZ, USMC (DECEASED)". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. United States Marine Corps History Division. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- Alfredo Gonzalez, Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients at Find a Grave
- CSHCR 121 resolves that the 80th Legislature of the State of Texas posthumously confer the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor on Sergeant Alfredo "Freddy" Gonzalez in recognition of his heroic service and expresses to his family its deepest appreciation on behalf of all his fellow Texans
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