Medal of Honor Recipients
Texan Victor Hugo Espinoza Jr., enlisted in the U.S. Army on November 22, 1950, during the Korean War. MSgt. Espinoza 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 (Section F, Site 1115).
Ambrosio Guillen, native of Colorado, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947. SSgt. 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 battalions retreated. Guillen died of his wounds on July 25, 1953. He received the Medal of Honor August 18, 1954, posthumously (Section E, Site 9171).
Texan Benito Martinez enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 15, 1951. He served as a machine-gunner with Company A, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Cpl. Martinez volunteered to hold the position, and allow comrades to reorganize, attack, and regain key terrain. Cpl. Martinez was killed in action on September 6, 1952 near Satae-ri, Korea. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously, on December 29, 1953 (Section B, Site 366A).
The cemetery also has two Medal of Honor recipients in the Memorial section of the cemetery.
Corporal Frank Bratling, (Indian Campaigns), Company C, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Near Fort Selden, N.M., July 8 – 11, 1873 (Section MA, Grave 29).
Private George Hooker, (Indian Campaigns), Company K, 5th U.S. Cavalry. At Tonto Creek, Ariz., Jan. 22, 1873 (Section MA, Grave 30).
Both the Fort Bliss National Cemetery and the Fort Bliss Military Reservation were named after William W. S. Bliss.
Lieutenant Colonel William Bliss was born in Whitehall, New York on Aug. 17, 1815. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in September 1829. He graduated July 1, 1833, at the age of 17, ranking 9th in a class of 43 graduates. He was considered a prodigy at the Academy where his classmates called him "Perfect Bliss." Later Zachary Taylor’s family gave him the same nickname.
He was a scholar and a master of six languages with a reading knowledge of 13 languages. His information ranged from philosophy to poetry to military tactics.
His first service after graduation was as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry in engagements against the Cherokee Indians (1833-1834). From 1834-1840 this talented and scholarly young man taught mathematics at the United States Military Academy. His service in the field against the Florida Indians in 1840 -1841, was followed by accompanying General Taylor to the Grand Council of Indian tribes in Oklahoma. He then served as Adjutant General of the 16th Military Department until 1845. In August 1845, he became Chief of Staff to General Zachary Taylor, serving with him throughout the military occupation of Texas and the Mexican War. He earned the rank of Brevet Major on May 9, 1846, for the gallant and meritorious conduct during the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. Further recognition, and the rank of Brevet Lt. Col., came on Feb. 23, 1847, for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Buena Vista. From 1842 onwards, he was a key member of the staff of "Old Rough and Ready." It was said that with Bliss at his elbow, General Taylor could count on trustworthy information and honest and competent advice.
He married the youngest daughter of Zachary Taylor, Mary Elizabeth, in December 1848, following the election of Taylor to the Presidency. Mrs. Bliss took over the duties of official hostess for her mother.
On July 9, 1850, Colonel Bliss was assigned as Adjutant General of the Western Division of the Army in New Orleans. On Aug. 5, 1853, he died at Pascagoula, Miss., a victim of Yellow Fever. He was interred in the Protestant Cemetery on Girod Street.
On Nov. 22, 1955, Colonel Bliss was interred in the National Cemetery with full military honors. His burial plot is located along the entrance driveway of the cemetery and is marked with an upright white marble monument.
John Paul Stapp 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 with 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, Grave 260).
William Wooldridge was born in 1922 in Texas, and 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, Grave 56).