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:
Private First Class Fernando Luis Garcia-Ledesma (Korea). Fernando Luis Garcia-Ledesma, native of Puerto Rico, joined the U.S. Marine Corps on September 19, 1951. He served in Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. On September 5, 1952, less than a year in service, a wounded Garcia-Ledesma was under heavy attack from enemy forces while attempting to secure weapons. Without regard for personal safety he threw himself on a grenade and saved a comrade. Private First Class Garcia-Ledesma received the Medal of Honor posthumously on October 25, 1953. He is memorialized in Section MB, Site 3.
Sergeant Major Juan Enrique Negron-Martinez (Korea). Juan Enrique Negron-Martinez, native of Puerto Rico, enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1948 and served in Company L, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. The 65th Infantry is known as the Borinqueneers, after the soldiers’ Puerto Rican heritage. On April 28, 1951, Sergeant Major Negron-Martinez took the most vulnerable position while fighting the enemy in Kalma-Eri, Korea. When his company began to withdraw, he continued his assault while the company organized and launched a counterattack. Negron-Martinez received numerous medals for his service and stayed in the army until March 1971. Negron-Martinez was awarded the Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014, posthumously. He died March 29, 1996, and is buried in Section J, Site 3180.
Captain Euripides Rubio, Jr. (Vietnam). Euripides Rubio, Jr., native of Puerto Rico, enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 18, 1959, and was a communications officer with Headquarters Company, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. On November 8, 1966, in Tay Ninh Province, Captain Rubio and his comrades were heavily attacked by enemy forces. Although injured twice, he assumed command and redirected an air strike before dying of his wounds, for which Rubio, Jr., received the Medal of Honor. He is buried in Section HSA, Site 5.
Steward John Ernest Sayle -- RTP/R238414, H.M.R.T. British Navy, Mediator, Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy) United Kingdom Commonwealth War Dead. Disinterred from Ft. Brooke Military Cemetery and Re-interred in the Puerto Rico National Cemetery on Jan. 26, 1960 in Section C, Site 597.
Diana Beatriz Borrero de Padro was born in 1946. She enlisted in the Army in 1978 and served for four years. Specialist Technician Padro served at Fort Hood, TX, and at Fort Clayton, Panama. In 2001, she worked as a civilian accountant for the Department of the Army. She was killed in the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, and was buried in Puerto Rico National Cemetery on December 2, 2001 (Section E, Site 2247).
Col. Bailey K. Ashford, Spanish American War. Disinterred from Ft. Brooke Military Cemetery and re-interred in the Puerto Rico National Cemetery on Apr. 20, 1954 in Section A, Site 1204.
As a recently commissioned lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Col. Ashford accompanied a military expedition to Puerto Rico in 1898. Serving as the medical officer in the general military hospital in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he was the first to describe and successfully treat North American hookworm in 1899. He was a tireless clinician and conducted an exhaustive study of the anemia caused by hookworm infestation, which was responsible for as many as 12,000 deaths a year. From 1903-1904, he organized and conducted a parasite treatment campaign, which cured approximately 300,000 persons (one-third of the Puerto Rico population) and reduced the death rate from this anemia by 90 percent.
Captain Ashford was a founding member of the Puerto Rico Anemia Commission and, by special authority of the Secretary of War, served on the Commission from 1904-1906. In 1911, his proposal for an Institute of Tropical Medicine in Puerto Rico was approved by the legislature. After serving as a commander of the Army Medical Department's First Division during the First World War, Colonel Ashford was assigned to San Juan and campaigned for the development of "a real school of tropical medicine in the American tropics". The School of Tropical Medicine in San Juan was formally dedicated in 1925. After a 30-year Army career, Dr. Ashford assumed a full time faculty position at the School and continued his interest in tropical medicine. His writings include: Anemia in Puerto Rico, 1904; and uncinariasis in Puerto Rico, 1911.
Captain Elwood Palmes Walmsley - United Kingdom Commonwealth War Dead, repatriated to the USA (Section B, Site 142).
Modesto Cartagena is the most decorated Hispanic soldier to serve in the Korean War. Cartagena enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and was assigned to the all-Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Borinqueneers (derivation of Borinquen, the island name used by original inhabitants, the Taino Indians). He fought in Europe during World War II, earning Bronze and Silver stars. During the Korean War, SGT FC Cartagena saved the lives of his unit by charging into enemy fire and “single-handedly" knocking out enemy emplacements before being wounded. This action earned him the Distinguished Service Cross. The Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico awarded him its Military Medal of Honor for his notable career. The Borinqueneers were also honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 for bravery in battle, becoming the first Hispanic military unit to receive the award. Cartagena died in 2010. (Section P, Site 1864).
Elmy Luis Matta was born in Puerto Rico, in 1921. One of six children, he attended grammar school and enlisted in the army during World War II. 1st Lieutenant Matta also served in Korea, where he commanded Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. On August 3, 1950, he led an assault on an enemy road block and was killed in action. Matta received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions that day as well as the Purple Heart. He was buried in Puerto Rico National Cemetery on July 18, 1951 (Section A, Site 41).