Mike C. Pena
|Mike Castaneda Pena|
November 6, 1924|
Corpus Christi, Texas
|Died||September 5, 1950
Waegwan, South Korea
|Buried||Cedarvale Cemetery, Bay City, TX|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1941–1950|
|Unit||2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II
Pena was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on November 6, 1924 into a Mexican American family. He joined the U. S. Army as an infantryman in 1941 when he was 16 years old. He served in both World War II and the Korean War.
Medal of Honor
The bestowal of the Medal recognized Pena's actions on the evening of Sept. 4, 1950, near Waegwan, Korea, when his unit was fiercely attacked. During the course of the counter-attack, Pena realized that their ammunition was running out, and ordered his unit to retreat. Pena then manned a machine-gun to cover their withdrawal and single-handedly held back the enemy until morning when his position was overrun and he was killed.
Pena received the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2014.
The award came 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 was shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor citation
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:
MIKE C. PENA
United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Master Sergeant Mike C. Pena distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a member of Company F, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Waegwan, Korea, on September 4, 1950.
That evening, under cover of darkness and a dreary mist, an enemy battalion moved to within a few yards of Master Sergeant Pena’s platoon. Recognizing the enemy’s approach, Master Sergeant Pena and his men opened fire, but the enemy’s sudden emergence and accurate, point blank fire forced the friendly troops to withdraw. Master Sergeant Pena rapidly reorganized his men and led them in a counterattack which succeeded in regaining the positions they had just lost. He and his men quickly established a defensive perimeter and laid down devastating fire, but enemy troops continued to hurl themselves at the defenses in overwhelming numbers. Realizing that their scarce supply of ammunition would soon make their positions untenable, Master Sergeant Pena ordered his men to fall back and manned a machinegun to cover their withdrawal. He singlehandedly held back the enemy until the early hours of the following morning when his position was overrun and he was killed.
Master Sergeant Pena’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.
Honors and awards
In addition to receiving the Medal of Honor, Pena received:
- Bronze Star Medal
- Purple Heart with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
- Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and two Loops
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Bronze Service Stars
- Bronze Arrowhead Device
- World War II Victory Medal
- Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp
- National Defense Service Medal
- Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star
- Presidential Unit Citation
- Combat Infantryman Badge (2nd Award)
- Honorable Service Lapel Button- World War II
- Philippine Liberation Ribbon
- Philippine Independence Ribbon
- United Nations Service Medal
- Republic of Korea-Korean War Service Medal
- Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
- Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
- Gold Bravery Medal of Greece Unit Citation
- Find a Grave
- "Master Sergeant Mike C. Pena". U.S. Army. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- Daniel Rothberg (2014-02-21). "Obama will award Medal of Honor to 24 overlooked Army veterans". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
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