“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Leonard L. Alvarado was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor March 18, 2014 by President Obama. His daughter, Menora Alvarado, received the medal on his behalf. He was only 22 years old when he fell victim to the Vietnam War. The award was very late in coming. Only after review of service member awards of minorities was his previous standing upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Below is the Citation as it reads:
“Specialist Four Leonard L. Alvarado distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Rifleman with Company D, 2d Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) during combat operations against an armed enemy in Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam on August 12, 1969. On that day, as Specialist Four Alvarado and a small reaction force moved through dense jungle en route to a beleaguered friendly platoon, Specialist Four Alvarado detected enemy movement and opened fire. Despite his quick reaction, Specialist Four Alvarado and his comrades were soon pinned down by the hostile force that blocked the path to the trapped platoon. Specialist Four Alvarado quickly moved forward through the hostile machinegun fire in order to engage the enemy troops. Suddenly, an enemy grenade exploded nearby, wounding and momentarily stunning him. Retaliating immediately, he killed the grenadier just as another enemy barrage wounded him again. Specialist Four Alvarado crawled forward through the fusillade to pull several comrades back within the hastily-formed perimeter. Realizing his element needed to break away from the hostile force, Specialist Four Alvarado began maneuvering forward alone. Though repeatedly thrown to the ground by exploding satchel charges, he continued advancing and firing, silencing several emplacements, including one enemy machinegun position. From his dangerous forward position, he persistently laid suppressive fire on the hostile forces, and after the enemy troops had broken contact, his comrades discovered that he had succumbed to his wounds. Specialist Four Alvarado’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.”
Leonard Alvarado’s name can be found on the Vietnam Veterans Wall in Washington D.C. at panel 19 W, row 7. He was born February 13, 1947 and died August 12, 1969 at age 22. Below are additional awards to his service:
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Alvarado
received the Distinguished Service Cross (this award will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor on Mar. 18), Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Air
Medal, Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device, Army Good Conduct Medal,
National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze
Service Stars, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with “60” Device,
Valorous Unit Award, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
with Palm Device, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal Unit
Citation First Class, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Expert
Marksmanship Badge with Rifle, Auto Rifle and Machine-Gun Bars.
Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans: Vietnam War hero Specialist 4 Leonard L. Alvarado
introduction and title © Phyllis Weeks Rogers 11/24/2018
Header Photo Credit: Bing images. Licensed for reuse commercially.