Emilio Albert De La Garza, Jr.
|Born||June 23, 1949|
East Chicago, Indiana
|Died||April 11, 1970 (aged 20)|
Danang, South Vietnam
|Place of burial|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1969–1970|
|Unit||Company E, 2nd Battalion 1st Marines|
|Battles/wars||Vietnam War †|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Emilio Albert De La Garza, Jr. (June 23, 1949 – April 11, 1970) was a United States Marine Corps lance corporal who was posthumously presented the nation's highest military honor — the Medal of Honor — for heroism above and beyond the call of duty on April 11, 1970, in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
Emilio Albert De La Garza, Jr., a Mexican-American, was born on June 23, 1949, in East Chicago, Indiana. He graduated from E.C. Washington High School in 1968. He was the son of Emilio and Carmen De La Garza. His father Emilio Sr. was a WWII veteran who served in the Army between 1943 and 1945. His brother Guadalupe served in the Marine Corps from 1978 to 1985. Emilio Jr. was married to Rosemary Rejon and they have a daughter Renee (Lugo). Emilio Jr. was employed by Inland Steel Company in East Chicago (Indiana Harbor), Indiana, before enlisting in the Marine Corps.
Marine Corps service
De La Garza enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on February 4, 1969, in Chicago, Illinois. He received recruit training with the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment at the MCRD San Diego, California.
Upon completion of recruit training, he was ordered to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, where he joined the 2nd Infantry Training Regiment (ITR) and underwent individual combat training with the 1st and 2nd Battalions, and weapons training with the Basic Infantry Training Battalion.
Promoted to Private First Class on July 1, 1969, he arrived in the Republic of Vietnam on July 25, 1969, for duty as a machinegun team ammo carrier with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. On September 29, 1969, he was reassigned to the 1st Marine Division and served as a Marine Corps exchange man with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, until the following December. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on February 1, 1970.
LCpl. De La Garza joined Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. On April 11, 1970, LCpl. De La Garza was serving as a machine gunner on a squad night patrol with Company E, 3rd platoon, approximately four miles south of Da Nang. The Marine rifle squad took hit and run fire in the morning and pursued the enemy. De La Garza spotted one of the Viet Cong (VC) hidden in a deep pond and went into the water with his knife taking the VC prisoner. As the VC was being brought to the shore by De La Garza to the other Marines, the VC pulled out a hidden grenade at the shoreline. De La Garza yelled "Grenade" and was killed as he struggled with the VC in order to save the other Marines from the grenade blast.
De La Garza's awards and decorations include:
Medal of Honor citation
De La Garza's Medal of Honor citation reads:
for service as set forth in the following
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner with Company E, Second Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on April 11, 1970. Returning with his squad from a night ambush operation, Lance Corporal De La Garza joined his Platoon commander and another Marine in searching for two enemy soldiers who had been observed fleeing for cover toward a small pond. Moments later, he located one of the enemy soldiers hiding among the reeds and brush. As the three Marines attempted to remove the resisting soldier from the pond, Lance Corporal De La Garza observed him pull the pin on a grenade. Shouting a warning, Lance Corporal De La Garza placed himself between the other two Marines and the ensuing blast from the grenade, thereby saving the lives of his comrades at the sacrifice of his own. By his prompt and decisive action, and his great personal valor in the face of almost certain death, Lance Corporal De La Garza upheld and further enhanced the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
/S/ RICHARD M. NIXON
- American Legion Emilio De La Garza, Jr. Post 508, East Chicago, Indiana
- Ivy Tech Community College, Foundations of East Chicago De La Garza Campus, East Chicago, Indiana 
- De La Garza Loop, located in MCAS Yuma, AZ, Base Housing (previously named, "SW Loop").
- List of Medal of Honor recipients
- List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Vietnam War
- List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients
- Hispanics in the United States Marine Corps