Medal of Honor Recipients
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Recipients receive the Medal of Honor from the president on behalf of Congress. It was first awarded during the Civil War and eligibility criteria for the Medal of Honor have changed over time.
Recipients buried or memorialized here:
Corporal Frank Bratling (Indian Wars). Frank Bratling received the Medal of Honor posthumously for service in the U.S. Army, Company C, 8th U.S. Cavalry, in recognition of his actions near Fort Selden, New Mexico Territory, July 8–11, 1873. Bratling is memorialized in Section MA, Site 29.
Master Sergeant Victor Hugo Espinoza Jr. (Korea). Texan Victor Hugo Espinoza Jr., enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1950 and was a member of the Acting Rifleman Company A, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, until September 23, 1952. On March 14, 2014, Espinoza received the Medal of Honor for singly assaulting enemy forces on August 1, 1952, in Chorwon. Espinoza died April 17, 1986, and is buried in Section F, Site 1115.
Staff Sergeant Ambrosio Guillen (Korea). Ambrosio Guillen, native of Colorado, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947. Staff Sergeant Guillen served with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. On July 25, 1953, Guillen's unit was attacked by two enemy battalions. Already wounded, Guillen refused treatment until the enemy retreated. Guillen died of his wounds on July 25, 1953. He received the Medal of Honor August 18, 1954, posthumously, for personal valor near Songuch-on, Korea, and is buried in Section E, Site 9171.
Private George Hooker (Indian Wars). George Hooker received the Medal of Honor posthumously for service in the U.S. Army, Company K, 5th U.S. Cavalry, in recognition of his actions at Tonto Creek, Arizona Territory, January 22, 1873. Hooker is memorialized in Section MA, Site 30.
Corporal Benito Martinez (Korea). Texan Benito Martinez enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951 and served as a machine-gunner with Company A, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. During action near Satae-ri, Korea, Corporal Martinez volunteered to hold the position, and allow comrades to reorganize, attack, and regain key terrain. Martinez was killed in action on September 6, 1952. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously, on December 29, 1953, and is buried in Section B, Site 366A.
Fort Bliss Military Reservation and the national cemetery were named after William Wallace Smith Bliss. Bliss was born in Whitehall, New York, on August 17, 1815. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in September 1829 and graduated July 1, 1833. Ranked ninth in a class of forty-three graduates, the 17-year-old was considered a prodigy whose classmates dubbed him "Perfect Bliss." Later, Zachary Taylor's family gave him the same nickname. The scholarly Bliss spoke six languages and could read in thirteen languages. His expansive proficiency ranged from philosophy to poetry to military tactics. His first post, as a second lieutenant in the infantry, was in engagements against the Cherokee Indians (1833–1835) related to their forced removal from the southern United States. From 1834–1840 he taught mathematics at West Point. His service in the field against the Florida Indians (1840–1841) was followed by accompanying General Zachary Taylor to the Grand Council of Indian tribes in Oklahoma. He was then appointed adjutant general of the 16th Military Department until 1845. That August he became chief of staff to General Taylor, and served with him throughout the military occupation of Texas and the Mexican War. He was promoted the rank of brevet major in May 1846 for gallant and meritorious conduct during the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma; similar recognition and the rank of brevet lieutenant colonel occurred in February 1847 for actions at the battle of Buena Vista. From 1842 onwards he was a key staffer to "Old Rough and Ready"; it was said that with Bliss at his elbow, General Taylor could count on trustworthy and honest, competent advice. Bliss married Taylor's youngest daughter, Mary Elizabeth, in December 1848, following Taylor's election to the presidency. Mary Taylor Bliss took on the duties of official hostess at the White House. In July 1850, Colonel Bliss was assigned as adjutant general of the Western Division of the Army in New Orleans. On August 5, 1853, he died at Pascagoula, Mississippi, a victim of yellow fever; he was buried in the Protestant Cemetery on Girod Street in New Orleans. On November 22, 1955, Bliss's remains were interred in this national cemetery with full military honors.
Charlie Bates (1878–1917) was born in Summerville, in northwest Georgia, and enlisted in the U.S. Army by 1901. Private Bates served in the 25th Infantry and transferred to Company M, 10th Cavalry in 1907, as a cook. Both regiments were segregated. Bates was one of many black enlisted men posted to the western frontier and to border fortifications who became known as Buffalo Soldiers in the late nineteenth century. Bates was in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Texas, and Vermont—the last home to the 10th Cavalry in the early 1900s. Bates died of pneumonia at Fort Bliss, Texas, in February 1917 (Section PA, Site 3E).
Donnie Wah Brown (1910–1995) was born in Texas and he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1927. Underage at the time, Private Brown served just over six months with Company A, 10th Cavalry, before an honorable discharge as a minority. Undeterred, Brown reenlisted in the army in 1929 and accompanied his cavalry regiment to Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Brown retired in 1953 with the rank of master sergeant and made his home in El Paso. Brown's military service spanned World War II, Korea, and early racial desegregation of the armed forces. He was the last resident Buffalo Soldier living in the city when he died on June 1. Brown was buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section O, Site 1878)—the tenth Buffalo Soldier interred there. His widow established a chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers in his honor in El Paso.
Virginian Sheldon Colbert (1882–1916) grew up in Wythe County and worked as a day laborer as a young man. He married and was widowed between 1900 and 1910, and was an iron worker. In 1909, at age 26, Colbert enlisted in the U.S. Army, joining Company M, 10th Cavalry, in Ohio. The next year he was living in the Columbus Barracks with his regiment, followed by Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, where he served in the early 1910s. The 10th Cavalry was one of the segregated regiments established for black soldiers in the nineteenth century, men who became known as Buffalo Soldiers. By 1916 Sergeant Colbert was in El Paso, Texas, where he died January 24. He is buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section PA, Site 15F).
Frank Coleman (1889–1929) was born in Kentucky and moved to Indianapolis as a child. By 1909, he was working in the city as a porter. In 1913 Coleman enlisted in the U.S. Army. For more than 16 years, Private First-Class Coleman served with three of four segregated regiments established for black enlisted men in 1866. As a Buffalo Soldier he was posted throughout the western United States, including Arizona, California, Kansas, and Texas. Records show he joined a detachment of the 25th Infantry in 1919, the 9th Cavalry in 1921, and the 10th Cavalry in 1927. For the 10th Cavalry, he was a member of the band. In 1929, Coleman accompanied his regiment from Fort Huachuca, Arizona, to El Paso. He died there of pneumonia on November 10 and was buried in the post cemetery, now part of Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section PB, 15D).
Henry Demand (unknown–1899) served in the U.S. Army and Company F, 10th U.S. Cavalry. The 10th Cavalry was one of the segregated regiments established for black soldiers after the Civil War. The men in these regiments were known as Buffalo Soldiers. Demand died on October 20, 1899, and is buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section PC, Site 18E). Nothing more of his military career and civilian life is known at this time.
Richard Holt (1865–1946) was born in Danville, Virginia. Holt moved west, found work as a laborer in Chicago, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1884. Private Holt served in Troop E, 10th Cavalry for five years. The 10th Cavalry was one of the segregated regiments established for black soldiers when the army reorganized at the close of the Civil War; these men were known as Buffalo Soldiers. Holt was honorably discharged at Fort Grant, Arizona, and remained in the Southwest for the rest of his life. He married and moved to Sonora, Mexico, where his son was born in 1900. However, by the mid-1910s Holt returned to Arizona, seemingly on his own, and settled in Tucson where he worked as a carpenter. He died there on May 8, in the VA hospital. He was buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section FF, Site 12554).
Grover Mapp (ca. 1885–1947) was born in Georgia, and he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Oglethorpe in 1914. Mapp joined the 10th U.S. Cavalry, one of the segregated regiments established for black soldiers after the Civil War. These men, including Private Mapp, became known as Buffalo Soldiers. Records indicate Mapp was a wagoner beginning in 1917. He was honorably discharged in 1919 and married soon thereafter. Although he did not serve overseas during World War I, Mapp re-enlisted in the army and was stationed in the Philippines. He returned in 1922 and rejoined his young family in San Antonio, where his wife's family resided, and they briefly lived in Arizona. After his wife's death in 1925, Mapp served another tour in the cavalry (1925–1926). He remained in Texas until his death and is buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section FF, Site 12549).
Roy McCain (1904–1944) was born in Louisiana and spent his childhood there. Little is known of his life, except for his military service in one of the segregated units formed for black soldiers after the Civil War. McCain enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1930, and was assigned to Company F, 9th Cavalry. Private McCain's tour of duty ended in 1933. His family, meanwhile, lived in New Mexico and he was married. McCain moved to El Paso in the early 1940s and worked as a porter. His marriage had ended by the time of his death on December 3, and he is buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section FF, Site 12574).
James Motjoy (1854–1931) was born in Kentucky and worked as a laborer. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in Louisville in 1875. Motjoy joined one of the segregated regiments established for black soldiers after the Civil War. These men were known as Buffalo Soldiers and many were posted to the Southwest. From 1875 to 1880, Private Motjoy served in Company H, 9th U.S. Cavalry, primarily in New Mexico. He settled in El Paso, Texas, by the end of the nineteenth century and, as a civilian, found work as a porter and janitor. In 1915 Motjoy married. He died on August 1, and he is buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section PB, Site 11E).
John Paul Stapp (1910–1999) joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944, after earning a Ph.D. in biophysics (1942) and M.D. (1944). Col. Stapp's work in aviation medicine and the physiological effects of speed and height took him to Edwards Air Force Base, where he experimented with rocket propulsion. On December 10, 1954, Stapp rode the Sonic Wind I rocket-propelled sled to a record speed of 632 mph in five seconds. Col. Stapp retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1970 and "the fastest man alive" went on to serve in medical advisory and staff positions with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1985 and received the Medal of Technology in 1991, among other honors. He died on November 13, 1999 (Section 1, Site 260).
Edward Walker (ca. 1878–1926) was born in Kentucky and enlisted in the U.S. Army in Lexington when he was about 20 years old. Prior to joining the army, he worked as a teamster. Walker was assigned to one of the segregated regiments established in 1866 for black enlisted men, the 25th Infantry, from 1898 to 1905. There he attained the rank of sergeant. Walker chose a career in the military and reenlisted in Company G, 9th U.S. Cavalry, as a cook. Regiment returns indicate Walker accompanied his regiment to various western posts including Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. He accompanied the 10th Cavalry to El Paso, Texas, where he died on May 27. Walker is buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section PB, Site 16B).
William Wooldridge (1922–2012) was born in 1922 in Texas. He enlisted in the army in 1940. A career combat infantryman, Wooldridge served during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, rising to the rank of sergeant major. Highly decorated for bravery, his honors include the Silver Star and Purple Heart for actions in World War II, the Legion of Merit for service in Vietnam, and the Belgian Croix de Guerre. In 1966 Wooldridge became the first individual designated with the rank of Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army, a position he held until 1968. His advocacy of the non-commissioned officer corps had a profound influence on the army, including the Sergeants Major Academy, and a standardized promotion system. Wooldridge died March 5, 2012, and is buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Section A, Site 56).
China was an ally to the United States in World War II and beginning in 1941 the U.S. Army Air Forces provided training to the developing Chinese air force. By the end of the war, 2,238 Chinese airmen graduated from the program, second only to the numbers of British and French trainees. Between 1942 and 1946, fifty-two Chinese airmen died during the training exercises. The Army policy regarding foreign nationals who died on American soil during instructional programs, as teachers or students, directed they be buried at the closest post cemetery. For the Chinese, it was Fort Bliss National Cemetery, Section D. Their graves are marked with General-style headstones inscribed with men's name in English, nationality, rank, and date of death.
There is one WWII Royal Air Force pilot buried here.
Hans Lindenberg (1904–1946) is a German scientist who surrendered to the U.S. military along with aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, who conducted rocket research at Fort Bliss as a civilian at the end of World War II. He is interred near the German POWs (Section PG, Row 11, Site 10K).
Enemy Prisoners of War
World War II prisoners who died in captivity were buried in the post section of the cemetery in 1946. These individuals were originally buried at prisoner-of-war and internment camps in Florence, Arizona (POW Camp Lordsburg), and Roswell, New Mexico. Treatment of POWs is determined by the laws of war (today set out in the various Hague Conventions from 1899 and 1907, Geneva Conventions of 1949, Additional Protocols of 1977, and customary international law). The graves of 48 enemy World War II POWs are located here—25 German, 19 Italian, and 4 Japanese—are marked with an upright General-style headstone. NCA manages 23 cemeteries that collectively contain the graves of more than a thousand World War I and World War II enemy POWs; Fort Bliss is one of them.