Joe R. Baldonado

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Joe Rodriguez Baldonado
Born(1930-08-28)August 28, 1930
DiedNovember 25, 1950(1950-11-25) (aged 20)
Ch'ongch'on River, Korea
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Unit1st Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsKorean War
AwardsMedal of Honor
Purple Heart

Joe Rodriguez Baldonado (August 28, 1930 – November 25, 1950) was a United States Army recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River in the Korean War.[1]


Baldonado, the son of Mexican migrant workers, was born in Colorado on August 28, 1930. He joined the U.S. Army as a light weapons infantryman (parachutist) during the Korean War.[1][2] In that conflict, Baldonado was killed in an action for which he was to posthumously receive the Medal of Honor.

Baldonado's acts of bravery were briefly described in a 1989 book, Disaster in Korea: The Chinese Confront MacArthur.[1]

Medal of Honor[edit]

Baldonado's Medal of Honor was accepted on his behalf by his brother Charles in a White House ceremony March 18, 2014.
Grave at Arlington National Cemetery

Baldonado distinguished himself on November 25, 1950, while serving as a machine gunner near Kangdong, Korea. Baldonado's platoon was occupying Hill 171 when the enemy attacked.[1] Baldonado was forced to emplace his machine gun in an exposed position; he remained there, cutting down wave after wave of enemy troops even as they targeted his position.[1] During the final assault by the enemy, a grenade landed near Baldonado's gun, killing him instantly.[1]

Baldonado was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army's second-highest award. In 2014, his award was upgraded to a Medal of Honor through the Defense Authorization Act, which called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to ensure that no prejudice had been shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor.[3]


The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to:

United States Army

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Corporal Joe R. Baldonado distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an acting machinegunner in 3d Squad, 2d Platoon, Company B, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kangdong, Korea on November 25, 1950. On that morning, the enemy launched a strong attack in an effort to seize the hill occupied by Corporal Baldonado and his company. The platoon had expended most of its ammunition in repelling the enemy attack and the platoon leader decided to commit his 3d Squad, with its supply of ammunition, in the defensive action. Since there was no time to dig in because of the proximity of the enemy, who had advanced to within twenty-five yards of the platoon position, Corporal Baldonado emplaced his weapon in an exposed position and delivered a withering stream of fire on the advancing enemy, causing them to fall back in disorder. The enemy then concentrated all their fire on Corporal Baldonado's gun and attempted to knock it out by rushing the position in small groups and hurling hand grenades. Several times, grenades exploded extremely close to Corporal Baldonado but failed to interrupt his continuous firing. The hostile troops made repeated attempts to storm his position and were driven back each time with appalling casualties. The enemy finally withdrew after making a final assault on Corporal Baldonado's position during which a grenade landed near his gun, killing him instantly. Corporal Baldonado's extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.


Baldonado also received[1] the following:

Bronze star
Badge Combat Infantryman Badge
1st row Medal of Honor
2nd row Purple Heart National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal
with 1 Campaign star
3rd row Army Service Ribbon United Nations Korea Medal Korean War Service Medal
Badge Parachutist Badge


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Corporal Joe R. Baldonado". U.S. Army. Retrieved March 19, 2014. "Biography" and "Citation" tabs.
  2. ^[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Daniel Rothberg (2014-02-21). "Obama will award Medal of Honor to 24 overlooked Army veterans". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-02-21.

See also[edit]